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Dairy Compact’s Life Extended

September 29, 1999

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) _ A federal judge granted an injunction Tuesday that will extend the life of the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact, a controversial method by which farmers’ incomes are stabilized by increasing the price of milk.

U.S. District Judge William Sessions III postponed the implementation of a new federal dairy pricing system to allow time to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by four northeastern dairy cooperatives seeking to block the system.

A hearing on the lawsuit is expected to be held within 30 days.

The new federal plan is intended to smooth regional disparities in the prices farmers get for their milk, but it would benefit the upper Midwest to the detriment of producers in the South and East.

The Northeast dairy compact was to expire Friday.

Midwestern lawmakers are opposed to the compact’s renewal, saying it makes it harder for farmers from that region to sell their milk in New England.

Supporters say the compact stabilizes milk prices and protects producers from market swings.

Vermont’s congressional delegation, downcast at the prospect of the compact’s expiration Friday, said Sessions’ decision gives them another chance to try to save the compact.

``This buys us precious time at a critical moment, and we may need every minute of it. Without it, the compact would have expired Thursday at midnight,″ said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

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