By Gregory J. Lamoureux
The United States Department of Agriculture sets the commodity price of milk on a monthly basis for several regions throughout the United States. Vermont is part of the Northeast Dairy Region, which includes all the states in New England, as well as New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York.
September’s price was published by the USDA on Saturday afternoon. That number, $18.78 per hundred pounds produced, signified a decrease of 19¢ from the August price.
It is also the first time since December of 2018 that farmers have seen a decrease in their product’s price.
Experts in the dairy industry don’t agree on the future of the price of the dairy market, when, or even if it will ever recover to the $26.16 maximum that farmers were making in November of 2014.
March of 2016 showed the lowest price of milk ($14.81) since October of 2009.
The actual price that farms receive in exchange for their dairy varies drastically based at least in part on the buttermilk fat content and the location it is being produced.
Every farm’s break-even point is different, but many farmers say they need to earn $18-$19 per 100 pounds produced in order to pay their bills.
The state of the milk industry over the past four years has taken a toll on farmers throughout the region, and the number of farms in the state shows it. According to the Vermont Department of Agriculture, the State has seen a decrease of 28 farms since the turn of the new year- nine of those farms that have gone out of business were located in Franklin County.
A total of more than 25% of Vermont’s farms that were in operation in 2011 are now shuttered, according to data published by the Agency of Ag.