Over the past eight years, New York has experiences a sustained loss in dairy farms. Since 2002, the state lost more than 700 farms, up to 23% of its total numbers. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been campaigning tirelessly for dairy farmers and agricultural producers in New York, advocating financial solutions that cannot wait until the next Farm Bill in 2012. Gillibrand recently released a five-point plan to stabilize milk production in New York, one that includes relief for farmers when milk prices fall below certain levels.
This larger decline is part of the general economic hardships currently facing New York and the rest of the nation. As part of his effort to combat state budget deficits, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has cut state spending. On the chopping block is state funding to agricultural producers, including dairy farmers. Four years ago, the state offered $15 million to various New York agricultural and educational funds and programs. Cuomo’s current budget drastically reduces that number, leaving Farm Bureau Programs $1.2 million in competitive grants.
The decline of dairy farms in New York impacts more than just farmers. As farms close, local businesses that depended on those farmers are feeling the pinch. Tractor businesses and repair shops have seen their business decline as have veterinarians, refrigeration companies, and the trucking industry.
Gillibrand and other New Yorkers argue that drastic action needs to be taken now to protect and create jobs in the state.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer