Dairy Farmers Waiting For State Aid

By Kiersten Mathieu

July 22, 2010 Updated Apr 27, 2007 at 6:53 PM EDT

Whittaker Farms in the Town of Nanticoke has hundreds of cows producing 3 thousand gallons of milk a day.

But times are tough.

Scott Whittaker is a fourth generation farmer.

"There's been times when we've been down and out and doubtful about continuing," says Whittaker.

The floods in 2006 wiped out local farm supplies.

Milk is being sold cheaper.

And the costs of energy and fuel are on the rise.

"We pay to have our milk shipped from our farm. We pay about 6 thousand dollars a month to have a hauler take our product to market. So they implemented a fuel surcharge that increased that even more," says Judi Whittaker of Whittaker Farms.

Another cost is corn.

The Whittaker's get a tractor trailer filled with corn every two weeks to feed their cows.

But as corn is being used for alternative energy, the price has doubled in the last year.

"It was just all around a year that we hope never comes again," says Judi Whittaker.

That's why the Whittakers and other New York dairy farmers are excited about getting a piece of the state's Dairy Assistance Program.

30-million dollars was included in this year's budget.

How much aid a farm receives is based on how much milk it produced in 2006.

The Whittakers are expecting a check for about 15 thousand dollars.

"The farmers in New York State definitely needed some assistance to get through. Hopefully we can use it to get up and rolling again," says Scott Whittaker.

So the cost of milking won't squeeze this farm and others dry.

Applications for the New York State Dairy Assistance Program had to be postmarked by Friday.

The most a farm can receive is about 16 thousand dollars of state aid.

Farmers should receive the checks by mid-May.

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