AGRICULTURE

Jersey cows grazing on Pete Williams's farm in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Under a new trade agreement, U.S. dairy farmers would have greater access to the Canadian market. But a major dairy cooperative says Northeast farmers stand to gain more if a separate trade dispute with China is resolved.

Jersey cows grazing on Pete Williams's farm in Shelburne, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Thousands of Northeast dairy farmers are receiving their share of a $50 million settlement, nearly nine years after the farmers filed a class-action lawsuit against a national dairy marketing cooperative. 

Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture doesn't track the number of farms that come and go. But last month, one farmer wrote on social media that she'd seen three farms within a 37 mile radius close -- in a matter of two weeks. And more have shut down since then.

Dairy farmers in the Northeast say they're ready to talk about something that's been almost off limits for decades: how to manage the milk supply to stop overproduction.

Farmer Norm Davenport in Shelburne, Massachusetts, can't find enough customers to purchase his hay.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

In recent years, milk prices have dropped. And dairy farms -- including some in western Massachusetts -- have sold off their cows. Some say their hay customers are disappearing along with the animals.

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