Support Dairy Farmers in Crisis
Milk pricing is at record lows because changing consumer habits, an oversupply of liquid milk, the market power of larger buyers who are vertically integrating, and a federal pricing structure that does not factor in the basic cost of production or living wages for farmers. The federal government sets the minimum price processing companies must pay for milk and currently the price is less than the cost of production, so farmers are losing money each day milking cows in order for New Yorkers to have fresh cheese, yogurt and more. Dairy farms in the Northeast and in Central New York are hit particularly hard by these external factors and are selling their herds and filing for bankruptcy at an alarming rate. Unless something is done to change the current course, we expect to see a snowballing effect of the economic downturn -- jobs will be lost not only at dairy farmers, but in processing, hauling, input manufacturing and in the entire rural economy.
Farms are a major contributor to New York’s rural economy – selling almost $6 billion a year in farm goods and employing thousands of people. Dairy farms are the backbone of rural New York’s agriculture comprising the majority of New York’s farms and generating the most agricultural income of any farm sector. When we invest in dairy farms, rural businesses grow:
Every million dollars of dairy farm sales in New York creates an additional 17 jobs in the state, the highest multiplier of any New York industry;
Every added job at a NY dairy processing plant creates an additional 4.72 jobs;
Each dollar of dairy products sold generates an additional $1.26 for the community.
1. Demand that Congress enact an emergency $20 per hundredweight price under all milk used to manufacture dairy products, which would immediately end the collapsing of these family farms by paying farmers enough to cover their production costs. Sign and share these petitions today.
- Save Our Remaining Dairy Farmers petition
- Help America’s Dairy Farmers Bring Milk Prices to the 21st Century petition
2. Use your wallet to support your local dairy farmers.
- Make fresh dairy products a part of your daily diet! High in calcium and protein, fresh milk, yogurt and cheese should be a part any healthy daily diet! Seek out milk with Plant Code 36 stamped on the carton. That means it was bottled in New York State and most likely uses New York made milk. Fresh dairy products like milk, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese are often made close to home, so eating more of these means that you are supporting farmers close to you as well. Prioritize local brands over national brands to support processing in New York State which, in turn, translates to stable, long-term markets for New York farmers.
- Buy local milk from farmers that bottle their own milk (and other dairy products). Everytime you buy local you are putting your money directly in the hands of these farmers at a price they have set. Look for these brands in your local store and ask your local store to carry these products. Click on the links below to find out where you can find these Catskills dairy products today! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your favorite farmer-made dairy products and where people can get them!
- Betty Acres Farm cheese
- Bovina Valley Farms cheese and Delhi, NY farmstand
- Byebrook Farm cheese and Bloomville, NY farmstand
- Cowbella Creamery milk, yogurt and butter
- Crystal Valley Farm milk
- Eternal Flame Farm Market milk and ice cream and Walton, NY farmstand
- Evans Farmhouse Creamery and Norwich, NY farmstand
- Harpersfield Cheese
- Tonjes Farm Dairy and Saturday Union Square Greenmarket (New York, NY) stand
3. Call Governor Cuomo’s office today at 518-474-8390 to ask him to respond to Farm Women United’s letter requesting New York stand with farmers and demand immediate federal assistance, an emergency floor price of $20 per hundredweight and Congressional hearings. Read the initial letter by Farm Women United here.
4. Call your U.S. representative and ask them to support Rep. Marino’s (PA) the WHOLE MILK Act, the bill would allow schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program to serve unflavored whole milk. Learn more about the bill here. Find your U.S. representative here.
5. Educate yourself and your community. Organize a screening of Forgotten Farms, a documentary that demonstrates the reality of today’s dairy farmers, their decline, their economic importance, and their value in a strong sustainable food system.
6. Learn more:
- Family Farm Action
- Farm Women United
- National Dairy Producers Organization
- National Family Farm Coalition
CADE is committed to responding to the urgent needs of area dairy farmers--who represent the cornerstone of NY’s rural economy--to create conditions for their businesses to thrive in the long term. CADE is convening an ongoing, regional Dairy Crisis Task Force to increase collaboration amongst farms, service agencies and government so that we use all possible resources and strategies right now to protect our local dairy farmers.
For more information about the Dairy Crisis Task Force or to contribute stories and additional ideas for this campaign, contact email@example.com.