The New Brunswick Farm Products Commission is hiking the minimum retail price of milk in the province by 3.6 cents a litre on Feb. 1.

Hazen Myers, chairman of the commission, defended the latest increase in a release, noting the price has now risen by 4.5 per cent in the last year.

"This increase is significantly lower than the 7.4 per cent increase in the overall cost of food items for the same period, as reported by Statistics Canada," Myers said.

The minimum retail price for one litre of milk is $1.50 and the minimum price for a two-litre jug is $3.05 and $3.02 for a carton.

Despite the higher milk price, the commission will not change the cost of milk for schools. By freezing that cost, the commission said producers and processors are subsidizing the cost of milk for children by about $1.3 million a year.

Myers said he hopes the recent reduction in fuel prices will last long enough to lower production costs over the next growing season.

The chairman said he believes the changes strike the proper balance of helping the interests of the industry and milk consumers.