ARLINGTON, Va. — After a couple tough years filled with economic hardships, 2014 should be brighter for those producers and individuals associated with the dairy industry.

Peter Vitaliano, vice president of economic policy and market research for the National Milk Producers Federation, said that based on the current forecast, 2014 should be a record year.

However, a couple consecutive, strong months will only partly outweigh the down months seen over the past few years since record-high prices in 2011.

“It’s going to be a little better for farmers finally. Feed prices are looking a little lower,” Vitaliano said.

Over the past few years, the economist noted, dairy producers have experienced many ups and downs — from 2009, which was the worst market year in more than 30 years and caused producers to lose a lot of money, to 2011, when market prices seemed to be on the rise again.

However, he added, 2011 was followed by the drought of 2012, which caused an increase in feed costs.

“2013 was better, and 2014 should be one of the better years for the last 10 years,” Vitaliano said.

Although, he believes next year will be great for the dairy industry due to better market prices and lower feed costs because of a good overall corn crop, he doesn’t think consumers will see a drastic change in the price of a gallon of milk.

Milk prices at the supermarket in 2014, Vitaliano said, won’t go much higher than what they were in 2013.

“It’s so expensive to produce milk, and relatively high (market) prices just cover it,” he said.

He added that corn prices are not forecast to rise anytime soon, which is good because dairy farmers can use some relief after a couple tough years.