Updated 10/05/2012 05:51 PM
Farmers await new Farm Bill
Congress is still working on a new farm bill. But until then, farmers say they are working without an important financial safety net. Berkshire County reporter Madeleine Rivera tells us how it's affecting local farm.
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ADAMS, Mass. -- "We're working seven days a week. We wake up at four in the morning, work until seven in the afternoon," said Victor Ziemba, co-owner of Broadlawn Farms in Adams.
Not many people think farming is an easy way of life. But it's become even harder for dairy farmers, like Victor Ziemba, who owns Broadlawn Farms in Adams with his family.
"At this point, we have no safety net whatsoever. So we have no idea what we're going to get paid for milk," said Ziemba.
Ziemba's situation soured when the Farm Bill expired on September 30th, ending the Milk Income Loss Contract. The program provided compensation for farmers if the price of milk fell below a certain weight. Without the contract, farmers say they're vulnerable to fluctuating milk prices.
"The price of milk right now has been approximately the same as it was 50 years ago, it's rough around the same price and all our expenses have doubled, tripled, quadrupled, in some cases," said Ziemba.
It's changing a way of life that locals say was common in the area.
"There were farms everywhere. I used to be able to turn around and when I was old enough get out of my bicycle and go riding out and that's where we usually worked in the summer all of us kids," said Jeffrey Lefebvre, Adams resident.
Financial difficulties could threaten the existence of farms in general. Victor says that in the 60s or 70s there were about 160 farms in Berkshire County. Now we're down to four in Northern Berkshire County alone.
"It's retirement time. But the only time farmers retire is when you put them in the ground," said Ziemba.
Experts warn that if Congress doesn't renew the Farm Bill, milk prices could double to $6 a gallon.