It’s been a hard few years for everyone. For our dairy farmers, hard is an understatement. This is from a recent article by Alexis Macarchuk for Seacoast Online:
Six of the state’s 130 dairy farms — some of which were in business for generations — closed last year. Many New England dairy farmers make less than what it costs to run their farms, forcing them to choose between long-term debt and slaughtering their cows.
“It’s been really horrific,” said Lorraine Merrill, the New Hampshire commissioner of Agriculture Markets and Food, after addressing attendees at Thursday’s annual New England Leadership Conference on conservation issues.
At that conference, Merrill gave a presentation about a new program, started by all six of the New England states’ departments of agriculture, Keep Local Farms. This program is an effort to support dairy farms, through monetary donations, consumer education, and milk and dairy product promotion. According to the article, “ultimately, Merrill would like to see reform on a national level that would stabilize milk prices.” But Merrill said, “Farmers are working to give up their money. It’s almost like they’re the ones subsidizing the consumers and the grocery stores, and that needs to stop.”
According to the Support Local Farms website, there are several things you can do to support your local dairy farms.
- Buy milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products at the store. If you can, purchase dairy products that are made locally in our region.
- Contribute as generously as you can to the Keep Local Farms program. One hundred percent of your contribution will go directly to assist New England dairy farmers and help stabilize and enhance their income despite fluctuations in milk prices.
- Support the businesses and organizations that display the Keep Local Farms logo.
Many of our dairy farmers’ milk goes to the Hood plant in Concord or to Cabot. So if you’re buying a gallon of Hood milk and a package of Cabot cheddar, then you’re helping a little to support our local farmers.