LISA RATHKE Associated Press

ESSEX JUNCTION (AP) -- The outlook for Vermont’s dairy industry is optimistic with relatively strong milk prices, increasing demand for U.S. dairy products as well as growth in the number of dairy processors and milk produced in Vermont, despite a drop in the number of dairy farms, officials say.

The average milk price paid to farmers rose to $19.60 per 100 pounds of milk last year, up from $17.98 in 2012 and a low of $12.16 in 2009, Diane Bothfeld, deputy secretary at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, told an annual meeting of dairy farmers this past week.

More dairy processors also came on line in 2013 -- with nine more off-farm for a total of 36 and five more on-farm for a total of 59.

"The more people that need milk, the more competition there is for milk," Bothfeld said. "The more processors we have in the state, the better we are."

Milk prices are expected to remain strong in the coming months because of international demand, said Bob Wellington, a dairy economist and senior vice president at Agri-Mark Inc. dairy cooperative, which this fall was named 2013 exporter of the year by Dairy World magazine.

"We think mostly it’s going to be pretty good times for Vermont farmers and farmers around this country. We are really going to be the milk pitcher for the world as we move forward," he said.


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