Record-high fuel prices came at a bad time for Vermont farmers. But milk prices are up
Vermont has hit several record highs for the average price of gas in the past few weeks.
According to AAA, today, June 9, 2022, marks the highest average recorded price for regular unleaded gas in Vermont, at a price of $5.016.
Diesel hit an all-time average price high in Vermont on May 18, 2022 at $6.395.
This couldn’t come at a worse time for farmers. It's the growing season, which means farmers are now fertilizing fields, planting crops and harvesting them.
That also means they’re using diesel-run tractors, trucks and harvesters.
"It's definitely on everybody's mind, you know, everybody's checkbook, for sure. It's scary, how we don't know — you know, nobody knows how long this could last.”Brian Kemp, Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition
Brian Kemp is president of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition. He says fertilizer and grain are also expensive right now — and machine parts are hard to come by.
"So with all these things hitting, it's definitely on everybody's mind, you know, everybody's checkbook, for sure," Kemp said. "It's scary, how we don't know — you know, nobody knows how long this could last.”
Kemp did note one upside for the state's dairy farmers: milk prices are way up.
More from Vermont Edition: Gas and energy prices are soaring. What can Vermonters do about it?
Dairy farmers are receiving the highest average price for milk in a decade, according to state data.
In its regular dairy data report, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture reported this week that the average price for a hundredweight — one hundred pounds — of milk is currently $25.42.
That's over $8 more than last year, and higher than any other time in the past decade.
But some farmers say its not enough to offset how much more it's costing them to produce milk.
Brian Nichols milks 100 cows and manages 300 acres at Speedwell Farms in Lyndonville. He says while milk prices have gone up by about a third, the cost for other inputs has doubled. Some of that extra money in his milk checks, for instance, goes towards higher gas costs for trucking the milk from farm to processing plant.
So Nichols has cut way back on fertilizer for now.
"We always try to be as efficient as we can, because we don't make no money. We're just gonna hang on, I guess, and see what happens."Brian Nichols, Speedwell Farms
"We always try to be as efficient as we can, because we don't make no money," he said. "We're just gonna hang on, I guess, and see what happens."
Nichols said if the milk prices hadn't gone up this year, he would have gotten out of the business. He's 54 years old, and has been milking cows since 1988.
"I weren't gonna dig a hole again," he said.
State data show five hundred and sixty-two farms currently ship milk in Vermont, down more than 40% from a decade ago.
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