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Feds to hear NY dairy farmers on milk prices

Federal officials will meet with upstate New York

Federal officials will meet with upstate New York dairy farmers upset that the price they are being paid is not even close to what consumers are being charged in the stores. (Undated) Photo Credit: Handout

ALBANY, N.Y. -  U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says Justice Department officials will meet later this month with upstate New York farmers and consumers over claims anticompetitive practices are driving down prices paid to dairies at the same time retail milk prices soar.

The meeting with Schumer and the top federal antitrust investigator will be at Genesee Community College in Batavia on March 29.

The public will be able to make statements and share concerns with Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney.

Schumer says the price paid to dairy farmers is the lowest in nearly four decades, while prices paid by consumers are high.

That's part of what's forcing dairy farmers out of business.

The meeting announced Tuesday will be the first public forum upstate in an investigation announced in November.

Schumer had called for an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. At the time he was concerned because the price paid to farmers has fallen by nearly 50 percent since January 2008, and the price consumers pay in stores was down just 15 percent.

A collapse nationally in milk prices that began more than a year ago wiped away the profits of many dairy farmers, driving some out of business while forcing others to slaughter herds or dump milk on the ground in protest.

This story was supplemented with information from Newsday archives.

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