ALBANY, 08/15/12 – State Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I – Oneonta) today joined Governor Cuomo in announcing immediate steps to cut government red tape to help New York dairy farmers capitalize on the growing Greek yogurt market.
“New York’s Greek yogurt makers are using millions of pounds of milk each day and it only makes sense that they use milk from New York dairy farms,” said Senator Seward. “In order to facilitate this, we are cutting government red tape and partnering with our farmers so they can expand and meet growing demand for dairy products.”
At today’s first ever New York State Yogurt Summit, officials announced plans to raise the exemption for herds needing the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit from 200 to 300 milking cows. Now small dairy farms will be able to add to their herds and at the same time be exempt from burdensome requirements. Complying with the current CAFO requirement costs hundreds of thousands of dollars which makes expansion economically unfeasible.
“The high cost of obtaining CAFO permits holds back family farms. Cutting this mandate will open the gate for immediate expansion at many New York farms while keeping environmental safeguards in place. Next, we need to examine additional regulations so that our true stewards of the land can grow and create jobs without facing excessive costs or unnecessary regulatory roadblocks,” Seward said.
The New York Power Authority will also work with the dairy and yogurt industries to lower energy costs by increasing and incentivizing the construction and use of anaerobic digesters which turn waste produced on the farm into energy that can be used by the farmers. This not only allows farmers to more easily manage the large amount of waste produced by cows, but saves money on energy costs.
“I am pleased Governor Cuomo has taken such a keen interest in the Greek yogurt explosion and, in turn, helped shine the spotlight on our dairy farmers, the backbone of New York’s farming industry for generations,” Seward added.
Since 2000, the number of yogurt processing plants in New York has increased from 14 to 29 today. From 2005 to 2011, New York's yogurt plants doubled in production. Over the same time period, the amount of milk used to make yogurt in New York increased dramatically from 158 million pounds to about 1.2 billion pounds.
“Farming is vital to our state’s economy and our way of life. By cultivating the growing yogurt industry and cutting government red tape for our farmers we can seize this unique opportunity, enhance job creation on our farms and provide real opportunity for future generations here in New York,” Seward concluded.
Senator Seward, a long-standing member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, represents Chobani, the number one Greek yogurt maker in the country, along with a vast number of dairy farms.