Demands for dairy farmers

By Kelly McCarthy

March 11, 2014 Updated Mar 11, 2014 at 6:32 PM EDT

Cooperstown, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Central New York Dairy day brought farmers together at the Otesaga Hotel, and while there they learned ways to keep their businesses booming.

Many of the dairy farmers at the Central New York's Dairy Day program said they came to find answers on how to best run a traditional dairy farm.

"Statewide still seeing a decreasing number of farms, cow herd size is getting larger," Jason Karszes of the Cornell University ProDairy Program.

Farmers said in order to stay in business they have to be willing to change with the times.

"The biggest thing holding people back is the cost to build new and modernize," said Richfield Springs dairy farmer Tim Cantwell.

The farmers in attendance vary from owning 50 or 60 cows to more than 150 on their land.

"I think the ones that aren't hesitant to change are the ones that are going to survive in the long run," said Sherburne dairy farmer Kip Law.

For many dairy farmers, surviving usually depends on balancing the cost of change and the cost of their current business.

"You need to have more cows," Cantwell said, "To buy, you know like tractors and manure spreaders and stuff like this have all gone up tremendously in cost, so if you just stay at the same herd size it's really hard to purchase some of these in puts that you need."

Having more cows and building modern barns are two key issues currently facing dairy farmers. All with hopes that investing in those upgrades will intrigue future farmers.

"My son is attending SUNY Morrisville this time, he's 19," Cantwell said, "He's thinking about coming back to the farm he's a dairy science major."

This year New York State was ranked third in milk production across the nation. That's the first time since 2009.

Milk production has steadily increased the past few years, and local farmers attribute that to better crop years and the state's rising yogurt industry.

This was the 7th annual Central New York Dairy Day Conference.

It covers seven Central New York counties and is hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

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