Gov. Chris Gregoire waived the limit on driving hours for truck driver carrying milk because of the economic impact.

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As part of her declaration of a state of emergency in Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire waived the limit on driving hours for truck drivers carrying milk from the state’s dairy farms and dairies to processing facilities.

Milk was singled out — now and during a 2008 storm — because it spoils so quickly, said Cory Curtis, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office.

“These storms have a huge economic impact that we’re trying to minimize,” he said, and spoiled milk could total “about a million dollars a day in lost product.”

Washington’s roughly 500 dairies produce more than 1.7 million gallons of milk a day, according to the Washington Dairy Products Commission.

The waiver is in effect until Jan. 22.

Darigold, a Seattle-based co-op of more than 550 Northwest dairy farms, said it appreciates the governor’s quick response, but that it’s still been hard to deliver milk in Washington this week.

“You can’t tell the cows to stop producing, so it’s got to be picked up and processed. But when the passes close down, to pick up milk and get it to a plant — it’s difficult,” said Darigold spokeswoman Michelle Carter.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @AllisonSeattle