KNOX, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Maine's dairy farmers fear the closing of one of the state's major milk processors could mean a financial hit for every farmer. Maine's 306 remaining dairy farms each receive a small bonus payment each month from the Maine Milk Pool.
That pool is funded by a 13-cents-per-gallon fee paid by Maine milk processors. But people in the milk business say the recent closing of the Garelick Farms dairy processing plant in Bangor could take as much as 600-thousand dollars away from the pool this year. They say those Garelick farmers are likely to end up sending their milk out of state now, instead of to a Maine-based processor. Our-of-state processors don't pay any fee into the pool.
The Larrabee family has been producing milk at the Aghaloma Farm in Knox for several generations. Harold Larrabee and his daughter, Cheryl Carson, say they stand to lose thousands of dollars in milk pool payments. They say its hard enough to break even on a dairy farm, and losing any of the monthly income will hurt.
Now Oakhurst Dairy, the largest in-state milk processor, is stepping in to offer some help. Oakhurst has launched a special publicity campaign called "Keep Your Milk in Maine". The company says it wants consumers to know what's happening , and hopes the effort will persuade more people to buy milk from Maine companies, to help prevent big cuts to the that milk pool.
Oakhurst has created a special website http://www.keepyourmilkinmaine.com/
It helps explains the milk pool situation. The site includes a video with several farmers, including Larrabee and Carson.