NEWBURGH — Last week, President Donald Trump and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for struggling farmers .
Before the pandemic hit, farmers were spending money on the new year with an uncertainty of what the future would bring.
And then for dairy farmers, the price of their milk dropped.
“Right when that price drop happened was really when we really started spending a majority of our money,” said Newburgh dairy farmer Heath Miller.
Dairy farmers milk co-operatives couldn’t gear up fast enough to change over from bulk processing, which would go to the restaurant industry, to a consumer-sized processing for supermarket sales.
But Miller said it wasn’t a shortage in milk but the co op’s limiting the amount of milk that could be shipped out.
“Our co op has cut us back 15 percent,” he said. “We can’t get full payment for 100 percent of our milk, so now we are getting less money for our milk because the demand is down plus we can’t ship as much milk as we normally would.”
Miller said the additional round of COVID-19 relief should help farmers put a dent in their financial trouble.
“When we do get money like that, many times guys found some place that they need already or something they haven’t paid for,” he said.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program “aims to provide financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Miller said not only does the financial support help, communities buying more locally has been a blessing.
“One thing that I think the consumers have to keep in mind, that the dairy farms in Maine, is everything is still local. Even though it might be coming from Portland, a lot of time it is still made in your communities,” he said.