Students at the University of Vermont have agreed to forgo a price reduction on retail milk they would have received due to plummeting milk prices. Instead, they are passing the 10-cent difference on to the 1,025 dairy farms in the state and 1,791 across New England, all of which are struggling because of the drop in prices. The “fair trade” initiative, which starts on November 17, is part of the Keep Local Farms program, designed to provide a way for consumers to contribute money directly to dairy farmers so they receive a sustainable price for their milk.
The school’s Student Government Association took up the issue in September by surveying about 300 students and finding a majority willing to pass on the 10-cent price break. The student senate passed a bill in October, making Vermont the first university in New England to sign on to the one-year pilot project (Harvard later made a similar move). Melissa Zelazny, general manager of dining services, says campus dining services provider Sodexo is supporting the program. UMV students go through about 33,000 gallons of milk per year.