About 500 of the state's 874 registered dairy farms have enrolled in a new price protection program as of Friday afternoon. Federal and state officials are urging the remainder to take advantage of an extended deadline to sign up.
Val Dalcini, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, says high milk prices have probably kept some farmers from enrolling. But Dalcini says the program offers a relatively inexpensive way to protect farm income if milk prices head down.
"And it also just provides peace of mind for dairies that could use a little bit of extra assistance in some cases. And if milk prices decline - I hope that it doesn't - we'll be able to see the safety net in action," he said.
The program buffers farmers when the difference between milk prices and feed costs falls below a selected amount. Minimum coverage costs $100. The deadline to sign up was extended to Dec. 19.