Senate questions dairy cooperatives

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(Host) Members of the Vermont Senate had some tough questions about what dairy cooperatives are doing to help struggling farmers.

Representatives of Agri-Mark and the Saint Albans Cooperative appeared today before a joint hearing of the Senate Agriculture and Judiciary Committees.

Bennington Democrat Dick Sears chairs the Judiciary Committee. He wanted to know why the member-owned cooperatives aren’t demanding higher prices for farmers. Agri-Mark Economist Bob Wellington responded.

(Sears) “Does Agri-Mark represent Agri-Mark as a business or do they represent their member farmers? That’s what I’m trying to understand.”

(Wellington) “We represent our member farmer. We market their milk every day. We try to find the best price for them every day.”

(Host) Co-op spokesmen say they’re struggling, too, because the milk pricing system is controlled by federal law.

They say the federal system favors large farm operations in Western areas of the country.

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