Budget Includes Dairy Assistance Program

George Winner

April 02, 2007

Albany, N.Y.-- State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) said today that the final 2007-08 state budgetincludes a Dairy Investment Act to provide $30 million in immediate financial assistance to New York’s dairy farmers.

Earlier this month, Winner and his Senate colleagues advanced the only emergency assistance plan for the state’s beleaguered dairy industry.

"Upstate dairy farmers are under real pressure right now. This year’s budget is going to extend a hand up to them," said Winner, chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. "It’s a must-do for upstate farms, businesses and consumers."

Winner said that extremely low commodity prices have combined with high energy and feed costs, labor shortages and flooding to create a "perfect storm" scenario that has had a devastating economic impact on many milk producers. In addition, low milk prices, an outdated price control system administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the escalating cost of running a family farm have resulted in unprecedented losses for dairy farms statewide.

The Dairy Investment Act will provide direct payments to farmers based on a formula per hundredweight for milk produced in 2006. The program is similar to one used by other states including Vermont. For a family farm milking 50 cows, according to the state Farm Bureau, this one-time payment will total approximately $3,100. An operation with 120 cows will receive approximately $7,500.

Up to 95 percent of New York’s dairy farms milk 254 cows or less.

Dairy farming is vital to many of the state’s rural, upstate communities, Winner said, generating tens of thousands of jobs both on and off farms, and productively employing millions of acres of farmland.