The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food wants to create a new label for New Hampshire milk to help keep local dairies afloat.
Agriculture Commissioner Shawn Jasper is working with Gov. Chris Sununu and lawmakers on a House bill to create the program, called the Dairy Premium Fund.
Gallons with the “New Hampshire’s Own” sticker would carry milk from New Hampshire farms, and would cost an extra 50 cents for customers. Some of this would go to advertising the new brand, but most of it would go back to farmers voluntarily participating in the fund.
Jasper says the bill is in response to the nationwide decline in dairy revenue and dairy farms.
“We’re down to under a hundred that are shipping milk in New Hampshire, and I’m aware of another three or four that will be gone by April,” he says.
Jasper says consumers want to support local dairies, but with the exception of some farms that bottle their own milk, it’s hard to know what dairy purchases send money to New Hampshire farms.
Other New England states have their state dairy labels, but the Commissioner says most of those require annual state funds. In New Hampshire, after $200,000 in existing seed money from the state, the program would be funded entirely by consumers at the grocery store.
Jasper calculates that at current production levels, New Hampshire milk could feed about a third of the New Hampshire consumer’s dairy needs.
His goal is to generate an extra $2 for farmers for every 100 pounds of milk sold. This would be about a 12 percent increase from current prices, which are hovering between $15-18 per 100 pounds.