Hudson Valley and Catskills, NY…Senator Jen Metzger (SD-42), who serves as Chair of the State Senate's Agriculture Committee, yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to swiftly aid New York's dairy farms, which have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The joint letter with the State Senate's Rural Resources Commission, signed by six Senators, requests that the USDA immediately direct to the New York dairy industry a portion of the $9.5 billion set aside for agriculture in the $2.2 trillion federal relief package, known as the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27.
"With the widening economic impact of COVID-19, the dairy industry faces decreased demand from restaurants and food service vendors, disruptions in global trade, and school closures," stated the letter. "Prices for milk have drastically declined, making it even harder for farms to break even. Many of the state's small family-operated dairy farms simply do not have the slack to weather this unprecedented crisis." The letter urges the federal government "to use all available resources to assist the dairy industry during this unprecedented crisis" to aid farmers and protect the state's and the nation's food security.
A full copy of the joint letter can be viewed here.
New York is home to over 4,000 dairy farms and 335 dairy processing plants, ranging from major global companies to small, family run operations. The state is the third largest producer of milk in the nation and the largest producer of yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream. There are dozens of dairy farms in Senator Metzger's district, which includes all of Sullivan County and portions of Orange, Ulster, and Delaware Counties.