Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Milk Price Paid To Farmers Hits Record High

Multiple brown cows standing in a row before hay, one has its head up.
Toby Talbot
Associated Press File
Jersey cows feed at the Goodrich farm in Danville in this 2012 file photo. Vermont dairy farmers are getting the higest price for milk ever, based on records dating back to 1977.

Vermont dairy farmers are getting record high prices for their milk. According the USDA, farmers are receiving a minimum of $23.57 per hundredweight. By comparison, in 2009 prices dipped under $12, which is far below the cost of production.

Diane Bothfeld is deputy secretary for dairy policy at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. She says the current price is the highest ever, based on records dating back to 1977.

Bothfeld says there’s been increased demand for dairy products, especially from overseas. She says the higher prices are also due to flat U.S. milk production largely because of drought conditions in the West and Midwest.

“California, the far West can usually crank production up quickly. But there’s not a lot of feed available and what is [available] is extremely expensive," says Bothfeld. "Things will change. The Midwest got a lot of snow this winter, the drought conditions should be alleviated. Milk prices go up, production increases and milk prices go down.”

Farmers are receiving a minimum of $23.57 per hundredweight. By comparison, in 2009 prices dipped under $12, which is far below the cost of production.

Bothfeld says the number of dairy farms in Vermont continues to decline. Currently there are 889, but in the first three months of this year, Vermont lost 40 dairy farms. Bothfeld says despite the decline, total milk production stays fairly constant.

She says higher milk prices will allow farmers to catch up on debt, but it could also provide a reason for more to get out of the business.

“In the bad year of 2009 when milk prices were very low, people incurred a lot of debt," she says. "The ability to catch up, pay off those debts ... Some farmers who are waiting or hoping to get out the business may take that opportunity now.”

Bothfeld says milk prices are expected to stay strong for the remainder of the year.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
Latest Stories