Dairy Farms in Crisis: A Community Forum

As dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of low milk prices, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for small family-owned farms to make a living. Many farmers say the price they’re getting for their milk is less than what it costs to produce. As milk prices continue to fall due to a global oversupply and lower prices overseas, many farmers are pleading with state and federal lawmakers to help. Join us in our Mountain Lake PBS studios for our latest town-hall-style community forum as we bring together farmers, political leaders, and members of the community to discuss what’s needed to keep family farms in business. Be part of our studio audience for the taping of the Community Forum on Monday, March 12th at 7pm here in our studios at 1 Sesame Street in Plattsburgh. Then watch our Community Forum: Dairy Farms in Crisis, Friday, March 16th at 8pm on Mountain Lake PBS.

  1. What I would be interested to know is if the low prices are the result of the market or an imposed NYS cap on dairy products. Which almost drove farms under when the “law makers” in Albany pushed conversion of dairy production towards corn that could be sold for ethanol. Many family farmers I spoke to were feeling the. pressure of competition with mega farms and whether to grow silage or ethanol. On top of which caps on dairy products to make them more affordable for needy people and the states own food programs had an impact one farmer in May of that year late 1990s, was already down $80,000.00 . He ascribed it to the caps.
    Use of farm land is also an issue, in the southern Tier to Loweville North the ban on fracking has denied farmers the opportunity to sell their lands at fair market value. It can almost appear to be intent to land grab by pulling the rug out from under the farmers. One might question if this has anything to do with food production at all.

  2. In response to the person above. I hope to encourage folks to look for other solutions instead of jumping to selling your farmland for fracking. I know this only applies to the southern part of the state, but with so many options to reuse farmland and keep it in production, fracking should be a last resort. Especially for the unknowns about how the company will go about it and the potential negative impacts on the surrounding land. There is the potential to reduce land/water value to other farms and farmers still using their land in proximity to fracking operations.

    Instead, I would suggest diversifying our farms in New York. We should try to increase local food production, and maybe other grains and animals instead of just dairy. Also, getting local county agencies to use available money for small family owned farms instead of larger farms that can already keep themselves a float will help. Helping family farms convert into different product markets isn’t easy, but maybe the state can help create a stimulus program to support this. Including helping farmers purchase equipment and get training on other production techniques. Don’t let our small family farms die!

  3. Concerned Citizen. The problem this all arises from sadly is the solution being sought. The government ended us being able to sell our products locally. Instead they added in regulation and middle men, which always ends the same way. With large producers who produce inferior products wielding the influence. We sold eggs, milk, chickens and the lot until such basic simple things became illegal. In Quebec right now this is occurring with sugar producers too.

  4. The above is my personal opinion and does not represent nor should be construed to represent the opinion of any other members of my family or any other individuals

  5. God thats terrible, I hear you on that. I believe the answer is more local food production, and as long as its managed right so that the environmental impacts are lessened in our backyards, it’s better than having to rely on long distance supply chains from California and the Midwest.

    But, I also am not sure of what the right answer is. Nor do a lot of people. I think times like these call for a creativity and to push the government to help us people and not big businesses.

  6. My cousin is selling her cows at auction today in the Watertown area….we sold out in 1996, and it still hurts. You just can’t make a living if you carry any debt at all.

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