Planning for Sustainable Dairy Growth in N.Y.

By Erika Mahoney

October 22, 2012 Updated Oct 23, 2012 at 8:53 AM EST

Greene, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The combination of rising feed prices, a dryer-than-average summer and a lack of federal funding through a national Farm Bill spells tough times for New York farmers.

"The lack of a farm bill impacts a lot of people, a lot of different industries, and dairy is certainly one of them," said New York Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine.

Aubertine was the guest of honor at Chenango County Farm Bureau's 57th annual meeting. He said it is important to be proactive to keep dairy farms up and running in New York, a prospect with which the Chenango County Farm Bureau strongly agrees.

Members of the bureau said tonight New York is losing more than 265 dairy farms every year.

Changing that, and preserving New York's agricultural status, is on top of their "to do" list.

About one month ago, a group of farmers, farm educators, and agricultural businesses got together to begin drafting a strategic plan for sustainable growth in dairy in New York.

Members said a similar plan was successfully drafted and executed in Wisconsin.

The goal of the plan is to increase the state's milk supply.

"Right now we are in a situation where Chobani literally doesn't have as much milk as it would like to have to grow to it's full potential," said Ken Smith, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chenango County. "Meanwhile, dairy farmers around the region are struggling with low prices and going out of business."

Another goal is to make sure economic growth stays in the state.

"Our objective is to make sure the money stays here in New York and goes to our dairy farmers," said Bradd Vickers, President of the Chenango County Farm Bureau.

According to the bureau, a 15 percent increase in milk production could be worth $1.5 billion to New York's economy and could add more than 5,000 jobs.