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AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT SETS DATE AND LOCATION FOR SECOND MILK HEARING
Further Information Needed for Comprehensive Approach to Boosting Dairy IndustryFor Immediate Release: August 11, 2006
Contact: Jeff Beach (609) 292-5531
(TRENTON) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture today announced that the second hearing concerning milk prices paid to the state’s dairy farmers will be held on Tuesday, August 29, beginning at 9:30 a.m., at the Rutgers EcoComplex, 1200 Florence-Columbus Road, Bordentown, N.J.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, August 8, Al Murray, the Department’s Director of Marketing and Development, said the Department is striving to craft both short- and long-term solutions to the problem of increased production costs and low prices paid to producers and that the first hearing on July 24, 2006 did not produce enough information to achieve that goal.
“More information is needed to address not only the possibility of establishing a new base price for milk but also long-term approaches to helping New Jersey’s dairy farmers remain viable,” said Murray, who by law served as the hearing officer. “A stop-gap or Band-Aid approach to the issues at hand is not the answer for our state’s dairy producers. The Department would prefer to embark upon a comprehensive program of cost reduction and price support rather than taking interim steps that, on their own, would not solve the problem and could disillusion our dairy industry. Trying to craft such a solution without all the necessary information would be irresponsible.”
The July 24 hearing was called after a majority of the state’s dairy producers asked the Department to step in and examine the issue of rising production costs and stagnant prices. While the retail price of milk has stayed steady or risen slightly recently, the prices paid to producers under the federal Milk Marketing Order for the Northeast have dropped, creating a widening gap between what producers are paid and what consumers ultimately pay for a gallon of milk. This – along with rising fuel, fertilizer and feed costs to dairy producers – has pushed many producers to the brink of going out of business.
A copy of the full decision document from the July 24 hearing, which was filed August 8 with the Secretary of State, is available by contacting the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-292-8896 or on the web at www.nj.gov/agriculture/pdf/HearingDecision.pdf.