An unexpected boost in milk prices last year ended abruptly in April, when milk
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An unexpected boost in milk prices last year ended abruptly in April, when milk checks to farmers dropped by a third. The unusual volatility occurs just as politicians in Augusta and Washington consider changes to the arcane system of pricing milk. Last year's surge was caused by a shortage of butterfat, needed for making ice cream. That shortage is being blamed on El Nino by many who say heavy rains ruined feed crops. Though the number of dairy farms in the U.S. and Maine has dwindled over the past century, the Virginia-based National Milk Producers Federation says milk production has increased and slowed in 1998 only because of weather-related problems. The Maine Milk Commission each month establishes a minimum price dairies must pay to farmers for their output. That price was $14.12 per hundredweight of Class 1 milk last July, and $20.58 by February. In May it had dropped to $14.86. The Northeast Dairy Compact provides a level of financial support for the region's farmers, but Congress is now debating whether to continue funding the compact. With special focus on Walter Whitcomb's Springvale Farm in Waldo, David Knight's Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, and how organic farming trends are influencing the milk market.
Davis, Jay, "An unexpected boost in milk prices last year ended abruptly in April, when milk" (1999). Maine News Index – Maine Times. 3530.