HARTFORD -- Governor Jodi Rell has signed a bill that will temporarily help the state's struggling dairy farms stay afloat.
The bill will increase the fee people pay when they file land documents with town clerks, from $30 to $40. Most of the funds gathered from the fee go into the Community Investment Account, or CIA.
Under current law, that money is distributed to a variety of state programs. Representative Bryan Hurlburt says now, more money from the account will be directed to dairy farmers.
"What the bill says is that we re-work the CIA funding percentage. Now, 40 percent will go to dairy farms, which will be about $8 million on an annual basis."
Don Tuller, president of the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, says milk is a unique commodity -- no matter how the market is going, cows need to be fed and milked every day. And milk can't be stored like grain.
Those pressures have forced nearly 300 of the state's dairy farms to close since the early 90s. And dairy farmers continue to struggle with a low milk prices, which have dropped nearly 25 percent since 1998.
Tuller says the federal pricing formula does not take into account the higher production costs in the northeast, and milk farmers in Connecticut have been loosing a dollar on every gallon of milk sold.
"We would much rather be getting the price from the market place, but the way the milk is controlled federally, and the fact that it's so difficult to keep the supply exactly in line with demand. It was the only thing we could figure out to kind of keep them in the business til' things could get better."
In a recent statement, Governor Rell said she has joined other New England governors to change in the way milk is priced at the federal level.