(Host) The federal government threw a life line to dairy farmers across the country this morning.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would increase the support price it pays when buying cheese and powdered milk.
The USDA says the price boost will be in effect from August through October and should increase revenue to farmers by $243 million.
Senator Patrick Leahy says the help can’t come soon enough.
(Leahy) "It is a significant step. There’s never a time they could need it more. It should increase the price support program by nearly 20 percent. That will halt the downward slide. We are going to have to do more. There will have to be perhaps a better milk market and there probably be more supply management. But with good farmers who’ve worked hard to play by the rules, it gives them a breather."
(Host) Dairy farmers right now are paid about $11 for every hundred pounds of milk they sell. But it costs them $17 to $18 to produce.
That big gap has forced many dairy farmers out of business just this year.
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee says the short-term help will boost prices by between a $1.25 and a $1.50 per hundred pounds of milk.
Allbee says he hopes the market will begin to strengthen enough to improve revenues even more.
(Allbee) "But I hope it will be enough for dairy farmers in Vermont and the Northeast to understand we’re all aggressively trying to find ways to reform the system long term and hold on long enough for us to try to get that done."
(Host) Leahy led a coalition of senators who worked with the USDA and the White House to get this temporary price boost.
He says he’s also trying to find a way to restructure the dairy price system to avoid such wild fluctuations in the future.