Dairy farmers look to supply yogurt boom
ALBANY — In response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s successful Yogurt Summit last summer, dozens of New York Farm Bureau members and family dairy farm owners recently testified at four public hearings held across the state by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Each farmer told a personal story of what expanding the threshold for a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) will mean to their farms.
For years, small dairy farmers kept expansion at bay because of rigorous and costly regulations that kicked in any time a farm had more than 199 cows. Not only does this limit the growth of a small farm, but as with the boom of the yogurt industry in upstate New York, it also limits the availability of fresh, local milk needed to meet the yogurt demand.
Moving the threshold for CAFO compliance to 299 cows is an unprecedented step and a sure sign the governor understands the needs of farmers to meet the manufacturers’ demand for local milk, keeping good jobs upstate, according to Farm Bureau. This change would also maintain the highest environmental standards in the country for dairy farmers who have consistently kept the state’s land and water clean, exceeding federal requirements.
“My son is the seventh generation on our family our farm. We have always taken our stewardship of the land seriously because we fully expect to pass it on to another generation. This change in CAFO threshold would be extremely helpful to us with a modest expansion to better accommodate the next generation,” said Tom Borden, dairy farmer and Washington County Farm Bureau president.
“I firmly believe that we can be environmentally responsible for far less cost than current CAFO requirements would demand. The current CAFO threshold only serves to force small farms to become much larger farms or go out of business.”