The groups, which also include Riverkeeper, Earthjustice, Environmental Advocates and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, contend the proposed deregulation is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act and would undermine DEC's ability to meet runoff limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Chesapeake Bay.
Members of the New York Farm Bureau and dairy operators testified at public hearings on the proposed regulation change on Jan. 4. Dairy farmer Tom Borden, president of the Washington County Farm Bureau, said the proposal would help small farmers stay in business by making a small expansion possible without prohibitive costs.
"We are confident that DEC has full authority to be the lead agency on these issues," Steve Ammerman, spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau, said Thursday. "Our regulations are much stricter than what the federal government requires."
The Farm Bureau estimates that potentially 800 farms across the state would be in a position to add 100 cows if the new rules are approved, but not all would have the desire or resources to do that.
Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than more traditional yogurt and requires more milk in its production. The rapid growth of the Greek yogurt industry in New York has revitalized the dairy business in the state. The nation's No. 1 and No. 2 Greek yogurt brands, Chobani and Fage, are both expanding plants in central New York, and the total number of yogurt plants in the state is now 29, up from 14 in 2000.