State board wants stop gap money for dairy farmers

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2007

WASILLA - A state board is hoping to get stopgap money for dairy farmers forced to dump milk now that the Matanuska Maid Dairy is entering its final days.

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The state plans to close the money-losing dairy later this month.

Dairy farmers hope to begin selling milk again to a privately operated dairy in Delta Junction and a startup dairy cooperative near Palmer.

In a move to keep Alaska's struggling dairy industry alive, the state Creamery Board voted unanimously Friday to ask the state Legislature for up to $200,000 to help tide over four South-central area dairy farmers.

The five-member Creamery Board oversees the operations of Matanuska Maid.

Board member Ben Vanderweele said Saturday the farmers need the money to keep going between the time the dairy shuts down and the new cooperative gets up and going in March.

"It's not just the four dairy farms. It's the hay farmers, the barley farmers, the trucking industry, the fuel people, the fertilizer and on and on and on," he said.

Vanderweele said the $200,000 request was based on paying farmers for milk they may not be able to sell in coming months.

Point MacKenzie area farmer Wayne Brost said he will likely end up spraying the milk on his fields as fertilizer, his best option given the circumstances.

"Frustration. It's total frustration," he said. "I'm not a happy camper right now."

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