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Dairy farm safety net dies with farm bill

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DANVILLE, Vt. — Small dairy farmers in the Northeast and Wisconsin say a tough year has been made worse by Congress' failure to pass a new farm bill before the old one expired.

Many dairy farms were already struggling with low milk prices and high fuel and feed costs as the worst drought in decades helped push up the price of hay and feed. Dozens in states like California, the nation's leading milk producer, have filed for bankruptcy.

In Vermont, the end of the milk income loss contract, or MILC, program, which paid dairy farmers when milk prices fell below a certain level, has created another wave of panic after more dairy closures earlier this year.

Myles Goodrich, of Molly Brook Farm in West Danville, says his family is paying $4,000 a month more now to feed its 120 or so cows than it did a year ago.