A new program in New England hopes to provide more money directly to dairy farmers by encouraging consumers to pay a slightly higher price for local milk.

Dairy products will be branded with a “Keep Local Farms” logo as a way to notify consumers that the product is produced locally.

The program was developed by the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council, the New England Family Dairy Farm Cooperative (NEFDFC) and the New England Dairy Promotion Board.

Hannaford Supermarket is the first major retail chain to back the program. Hannaford has 171 stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. In addition to supporting the program, Hannaford Supermarkets will also be offering a reverse coupon for the month of February. Patrons at the store can choose to make a donation to the Keep Local Farms program at check out. Coupons will be offered in $2, $3 or $5 amounts, says Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares.

The Keep Local Farms program is also working with academic institutions to raise funds. A donation of 10-cents per serving of milk will be made to the program by academic institutions. Institutions currently signed-up for the program include Harvard University and the University of Vermont.

In addition, the NEFDFC will collect direct contributions for local dairy farmers online at, http://www.keeplocalfarms.org, and distribute funds to NEFDFC members to assure that dairy farmers are paid a sustainable price for their goods. Initial payments will be made at least every six months, coinciding with months when farmers have high expenses such as April or May during the spring planting and at the fall harvest in September or October.

Source: Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs