PORTALES, N.M. (AP) -- Dairy farmers are hoping for federal help after severe drought and high feed prices have closed around 40 dairies in New Mexico.

The Portales News-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/SZdS7U) that experts believe the U.S. Farm Bill could give dairy farmers relief by ending old price support systems.

New Mexico State University Extension Dairy Specialist Robert Hagevoort (HAYG'-vohrt) says the proposal would create a regulated producer-paid insurance program. He says the program would make sure that if margins are upside down, insurance will pay out.

Most of New Mexico's dairies are located in Curry, Chaves and Roosevelt counties, an area of the state most affected by the drought and high feed prices.

Troubles began in 2009 when producers experienced an 18-month stretch of "unbelievable losses" caused by extremely high feed prices.

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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