State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C - Schenectady) announced that checks, averaging $5,000 each, are in the mail to provide relief to nearly 5,100 strapped dairy farmers across New York State, thanks to a $30 million Dairy Assistance Program that was spearheaded and championed by the state Senate Republican Majority during this year’s contentious budget process. Recently, Senator Farley and members of the Senate Majority were joined by President John Lincoln of the New York State Farm Bureau and members of the local dairy industry to announce this historic program that will help offset devastating losses to farms because of 25-year-low milk prices.
Additionally, applications are still being accepted for eligible dairy farms. Interested applicants should contact the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets by visiting their website at http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us or calling 1-800-554-4501.
"This is the first dairy program of its kind in the history of New York State," said Senator Young. "These checks, hitting mailboxes this week, come at a critical time for New York’s dairy farmers, just in time for spring planting. I’m thrilled that the Senate was successful in its fight for $30 million in direct assistance."
"The dairy industry serves as the backbone of the upstate economy and the economic impacts of our $3 billion industry ripples through a large number of local economies across New York," said John W. Lincoln, President, New York Farm Bureau. "This considerable investment in the dairy industry will go a long way in helping to financially strengthen dairy farms in a time of extremely low commodity prices and very high energy and livestock feed prices. Moreover, this major investment in the dairy industry will also be felt by the many businesses in our rural communities that support the farm industry. Quite simply, this investment is a win-win for upstate New York. We thank Senate Majority Leader Bruno, Senator Young and the entire Senate Majority for their support of agriculture."
"Our Central New York dairy farmers have been hit especially hard by rising fuel costs, low milk prices and adverse weather conditions," said Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-C-I-WF, Syracuse). "Our hard working dairy farmers make vital contributions to our Upstate communities and our economy. This assistance will provide them with some much needed financial relief which will go a long way in helping to preserve their livelihood."
"Dairy farming is a crucial component of the Mohawk Valley economy," said Senator Hugh Farley (R-C, Schenectady). "Not only do local farms provide direct employment, but processing facilities such as the new yogurt plant represent major investments in the community. I'm pleased that the Senate succeeded in this program to maintain and strengthen our local dairy farms."
"When we began the budget process, dairy farmers made it clear that they were in need of real action right away," said Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R-C, Rome). "It is a testament to the hard work of the New York State Senate and the Department of Agriculture and Markets that in only three months since promises were made, that checks are being delivered. This is an important investment in New York's largest industry."
Senator Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson) said, "I am very pleased that the state's dairy farmers will soon have these checks in hand. This relief is critical to the future of the dairy industry in New York. It will help farmers reduce expenses, increase farm stability and maintain a vibrant and profitable dairy industry here in New York."
"The arrival of these relief checks will be welcomed news for the dairy farmers I represent," said Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury). "We owe a lot to these farmers -- not only for the milk and dairy products they produce -- but for the economic activity they generate. Keeping them viable is very important for our upstate economy."
Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) said, "We're getting this relief out the door quickly because we know the need is great. Our dairy farmers play a critical role in our economy and our communities, and we need to stand by them so they can make ends meet."
"New York’s dairy farmers are in desperate need of relief during these challenging times," said Senator Michael Nozzolio (R-C, Fayette). "It was a pleasure to fight with my Senate colleagues to secure the necessary funding for the Dairy Investment Act and provide immediate relief for New York’s dairy farmers."
"As my Senate District has a high concentration of dairy farms, I am proud to support this Senate initiative which will provide much-needed assistance to our dairy farmers," said Senator Mary Lou Rath (R-C-I, Williamsville). "It is essential the dairy industry in New York State has the resources to compete in a global market. The measure the Senate worked to include in the budget will help them to do that."
"The Senate Majority promised much needed relief for dairy farmers across New York State and we have delivered on that promise," said Senator Joseph Robach (R-C-I-WF, Rochester). "Agriculture remains a vital component to ensure a thriving economy, especially here in Upstate New York. Our dairy farmers play an important and necessary role in providing wholesome, nutritional staples as part of our everyday consumption. This urgent financial assistance will help keep thousands of our citizens working and ensures a healthy, quality product for all residents of this state.
"When the dairy industry is on the verge of collapse, the New York State Senate answered the call with immediate help for our farmers," said Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I, Oneonta). "Dairy farming is important to our food supply and to our economy in our upstate, rural areas. Farmers provide food, maintain open space as stewards of their land, and help our economy in many different ways. The financial aid won by the Senate in this year's budget is a step toward helping our farmers get back on their feet."
"Dairy farming is a tough business, one that has a very tight profit margin for the farmer," said Senator Dale M. Volker (R-C-I, Depew). "The Senate fought very hard to assist this segment of our state's economy, so that many of our farm families can continue to remain financially viable. All too often, we see many of our farmers having to sell their properties, otherwise they would go into bankruptcy. We must make a commitment to protecting this pivotal segment of our state's economy, and nurture it to secure the future of our dairy industry."
"Our dairy farmers needed us to move fast to help them weather this financial storm, and we did," said Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira), chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. "It’s an absolutely critical state investment in the future of upstate dairy farms, businesses and communities."
As part of this year’s budget negotiations the Senate Majority successfully fought to secure the $30 million in funding to provide direct and immediate financial relief to New York's beleaguered dairy industry. In contrast, the original proposals advanced by Governor Spitzer and the State Assembly provided no financial assistance package for dairy farmers.
The State Budget established a new Dairy Assistance Program within the New York State Department of Agriculture. The program, which is similar to an initiative used in the State of Vermont, pays eligible farmers the difference between target prices established by the Agriculture Commissioner and the combined Northeast Federal Order Statistical Uniform Price, plus the amount of the Milk Income Loss Contract X payment rate on a per-hundredweight basis.
Nearly 5,100 dairy producers, representing approximately 90 percent of eligible dairy farms, will receive payments from the State in the form of a separate check based on pounds of milk produced during the 2006 calendar year.
Dairy farming is a vital part of the fabric of the state's rural communities, generating tens of thousands of jobs both on and off farms, and productively employing millions of acres of farmland. Unfortunately, high fuel and feed costs, labor shortages and flooding have created 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 across the State.