State Senator James L. Seward is opposing a proposed new federal tax on the state's dairy farmers, arguing that dairy farms in New York could be forced to close their barn doors.
According to the Farm Bureau, the proposed 2007 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture includes a proposed 3 cent per hundred-weight (cwt.) assessment on milk production. It is estimated that the tax would cost the average dairy farmer $400 per year.
"New York’s hard-working, overburdened dairy farmers cannot afford any new taxes, period," said Senator Seward, a member of the state Senate Agriculture Committee. "Putting a tax on milk production, especially when milk prices are falling, is just so much barnyard waste."
Seward said milk prices have dropped approximately $1.90 per cwt. between December of 2004 and December of 2005.
Seward noted that many dairy farmers are already struggling just to get by with the astronomical rise in fuel and energy prices and the continued downward spiral in the price farmers are receiving for the milk they produce.
Seward is calling on the United States Department of Agriculture to scrap the proposal. He is sending a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Michael Johanns urging him to consider the disastrous effect that the milk tax would have on New York dairy farmers.
"With more than 11 billion pounds of milk being produced in New York each year, the milk tax would cost farmers here more than $4 million per year. That's money that belongs to the farmers and could be used to invest in their operations or pay their bills," Seward said.
New York lost more than 3,100 dairy farms between 1995 and 2004.