By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — Several area consumers said Monday they would be willing to pay more for milk — if that extra money went to producers.
“If the farmer got the money, I wouldn’t mind,” Joy Brown of Sidney said as she waited for her groceries to be loaded into a car outside the Hannaford supermarket in Oneonta, where milk was selling at $3.19 a gallon for the house brand and $3.59 a gallon for a dairy brand.
“But the farmer doesn’t get the money,” she added. “The middleman does.”
But Brown said she wouldn’t pay $6 per gallon. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer warned during the weekend that milk prices may go that high or higher if the House of Representatives doesn’t pass the Farm Bill during the lame-duck session of Congress. The Senate passed its version of the bill June 21, but the House version has stalled. The Farm Bill that passed in 2008 expired Sunday.
Fred Palmer of Morris said he, too, would pay the extra money under the right circumstances.
“If the farmers got more, I would,” he said outside the Oneonta Hannaford store. “But are they going to get more, or is just going to be the retail?”
Stever Fournier of Milford Center said a price hike wouldn’t affect the buying pattern for him and his wife.
“It’s not really a big purchase for us,” he said, but said he’d be willing to pay more for what little milk they buy.
“I just think we need to help the farmers,” he said outside the Price Chopper in the East End of Oneonta. “Those are the guys who are hurting, not the middlemen and all those people. I’m more concerned with the farmer, and honestly I’d be willing to pay a little more for milk if it was going to the farmers and helping them.”
For Patricia Wilcox of Edmeston and Jody Clark of Smyrna, however, a big price hike would be a big burden, they said.
“My family goes through a gallon a day,” Wilcox said.
“I go through about 2 ½ gallons a week,” Clark said.
The women, who were loading a minivan outside the Oneonta Hannaford, said they would little choice than to buy less milk if the price rose dramatically.
“It’s either that or go buy off the farmer,” Wilcox said.
“I couldn’t even imagine anybody buying milk at $6 a gallon,” she added, with Clark nodding in agreement.
Asked whether they were having trouble making ends meet, Wilcox said, “Everybody does anymore, between the food price and the gas prices and the diesel prices.”
Betty Cornish of Morris, who was with Palmer, said she’d probably keep buying.
“I have to have my milk,” she said.
None of those questioned about the potential price increase expressed any interest in alternatives, such as powdered milk.
“My mother tried to poison me with that when I was a kid,” Brown said with a smile.