Dairy farm safety net dies with farm bill

By Lisa Rathke

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 21 2012 9:45 a.m. MDT

Farmer Myles Goodrich pushes a caret of feed on his farm on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 in Danville, Vt. Congress’ failure to act on a farm bill before the election recess has put small dairy farms in limbo. Already strapped by soaring feed and fuel costs that are putting some out of business, small farms from New England to the Midwest will no longer have a safety net that provided them a boost when milk prices fell to a certain level.

Toby Talbot, Associated Press

DANVILLE, Vt. — Small dairy farmers in the Northeast and Wisconsin say a tough year has been made worse by Congress' failure to pass a new farm bill before the old one expired.

Many dairy farms were already struggling with low milk prices and high fuel and feed costs as the worst drought in decades helped push up the price of hay and feed. Dozens in states like California, the nation's leading milk producer, have filed for bankruptcy.

In Vermont, the end of the milk income loss contract, or MILC, program, which paid dairy farmers when milk prices fell below a certain level, has created another wave of panic after more dairy closures earlier this year.

Myles Goodrich, of Molly Brook Farm in West Danville, says his family is paying $4,000 a month more now to feed its 120 or so cows than it did a year ago.

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