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September 3, 2019 - 4:05pm

Press release:

SYRACUSE -- The 51st Annual Butter Sculpture at the New York State Fair was taken down, but it didn't go to waste.

American Dairy Association North East, in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and Noblehurst Farms, dismantled the 800-pound sculpture today at the New York State Fairgrounds.

Ultimately, the inedible butter will make its way to Noblehurst Farms in Pavilion (and Linwood), a "Dairy of Distinction," where it will be recycled in the farm’s methane digester and converted into renewable energy to power the dairy farm and produce liquid fertilizer for crops.

Noblehurst Farms has been recognized for achievements in sustainability and community partnerships to divert food waste from local landfills. (For previous coverage of an example of these efforts, click here.)

This year’s sculpture, “Milk. Love What’s Real,” featured a grandfather and child dunking cookies into milk and a young couple sharing a milkshake, illustrating how our love for real dairy connects many cherished moments in our lives.

Here's a link to a time-lapse video of the sculpture's deconstruction, which actually took 90 minutes to do.

About American Dairy Association North East

The American Dairy Association North East (ADANE) is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council® and the regional consolidation of three promotion organizations including the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council Inc., Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program.  Committed to nutrition education and research-based communications, ADANE provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier nation, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media.

Funded by dairy checkoff dollars from more than 12,000 dairy farm families in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Northern Virginia, ADANE works closely with Dairy Management Inc.™ to bring a fully integrated promotion program to the North East region. For more information, visit AmericanDairy.com

July 10, 2012 - 7:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, agriculture, elba, Le Roy, Dairy Farms.

Will Greek yogurt mean a boom for local dairy farmers? Marwa Eltagouri takes a look at that question for the Buffalo News.

Local dairy farmers Gordon Offhaus and Dale Stein are featured.

In order to keep up with the Greek yogurt demand, it is estimated that milk produced by Western New York farmers must increase by 15 percent over the next four to five years, said Dave Dean Norton, president of the New York State Farm Bureau.

Since there isn't enough milk in the state right now to feed the Alpina Foods and PepsiCo plants, the plants will have to pay additional costs to freight the milk in from another state, likely Michigan, said Stein, the farmer from Le Roy.

The article is full of useful information to know if this segment of the local economy is important to you.

March 30, 2010 - 8:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, agriculture, Dairy Farms.

Bigness is killing New York dairy farmers.

Big and ever-growing milk processors and retail chains are controlling the market and driving down the prices paid to farmers, but not passing on the cost savings to consumers.

That was the message of a meeting yesterday at GCC of dairy farmers and the Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christine A. Varney, who is in charge of the Antitrust Division.

From the Buffalo News:

"Our farmers are getting paid less and consumers are paying more," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who invited Varney to the meeting. "Someone's walking away with all the money."

Schumer said processors are making record profits at a time when farmers are on the brink of losing their family businesses. He wants the Justice Department to investigate anti-competitive practices in the dairy industry.

Consolidation among milk processors is one of the chief reasons prices paid to farmers has gone down, Varney was told. There are simply fewer outlets for farmers to sell their product to, meaning less competition, and without the competition it's easier for the buyer to set ever lower prices.

In some states, Dean Foods controls as much as 90 percent of the market, and about 70 percent in New York.

From the D&C: 

Bill Cook, who milks 1,800 cows near Aurora, Cayuga County, said he used to deal with five different milk buyers who were willing to pay a premium for the high-quality milk his cows produced. Premiums can mean the difference between just paying the bills and actually making a profit.

Meanwhile, Cook said none of those buyers is still operating because they went out of business or were consolidated into larger operations, such as Dean Foods, a giant among dairy processors. Cook had to borrow $500,000 to cover his losses last year.

The Buffalo News quoted a sixth-generation Wyoming County Farmer who used USDA figures to point out that the dairy farm share of retail dollars have dropped from 37 percent to 25 percent in the past three years.

Bigger and bigger retail chains were also blamed for downward prices on milk products.  Walmart's outsized pressure for lower and lower prices isn't helping farmers.

"Walmart's 'everyday low prices' applies constant downward pressure on all commodities, squeezing the supply chain while demanding more," said Ed Schoen of Shoe-Acres farm in Phelps, Ontario County. Pricing at Wegmans, on the other hand, is sensitive to the prices farmers are getting, he said.

Barbara Brown, a county legislator in Oswego County, said her district once had 26 dairy farms. Now it has three. She recently sold off her cows and closed her farm.

Varney offered the farmers hope.

"We will not let you down," she said, according to the Buffalo News. "We know the problem you're facing."

Sen. Schumer has called on the federal government to take several steps to help dairy farmers:

  • Deal with the consolidation of milk processors and the lack of competition.
  • A program called MILC provides aid to farmers when milk prices fall to a certain level. That target price needs to be raised.
  • Raise MILC reimbursement from 45 percent of the price difference.
  • Reform the milk marketing order system, which helps set commodity prices, used by the USDA. The current system doesn't adequately measure the cost of milk production in the Northeast.
  • Return to a dairy compact system that helps New York farmers set prices.
  • Pass a Milk Import Tariff act to ensure that milk producers and processors in other countries are playing by the same rules as the United States.
March 19, 2010 - 6:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, Dairy Farms.

Are New York's dairy farmers being harmed by possible monopolies in the milk-processing industry?

That's one of the questions the nation's top anti-trust cop will try to answer when she meets with a group of dairy owners at Genesee Community College at 11 a.m., March 27.

The meeting isn't a hearing, but Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney will be on hand to hear directly from farmers what complaints they might have regarding alleged price fixing.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said the farm bureau has been working on getting farmers to the meeting, but he doesn't have a position on whether there are monopoly practices in the industry.

"I can't say yes or no to that question," Norton said. "There are some people who believe there are monopolies in the industry, but I don't know if there is any hard evidence to prove it. That's one thing I guess Varney wants to find out."

Sen. Charles Schumer helped arrange the meeting after learning that Varney has been working on anti-trust issues in other parts of the agriculture industry.

(via Watershed Post)

December 18, 2009 - 9:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Dairy Farms.

New York's struggling dairy farmers are going to receive a good chunk of federal aid, the D&C reports this morning.

The USDA announced a nationwide distribution plan that favors smaller dairy farmers for a $290-million aid package. Some $40 million of the funds are slated for New York's farmers.

Checks will be mailed this week and there is no application process.

“Dairy farmers are the backbone of New York’s agricultural economy, and they are in the middle of the worst crisis in recent memory,” Sen. Charles Schumer said. “This congressional aid could not come a moment too soon.”

The average dairy farmer, with 116 cows, according to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's office will receive about $7,400.

Read More.

September 24, 2009 - 9:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in stimulus, Dairy Farms.

It would be illegal to use stimulus funds to help struggling dairy farmers, according to Gov. David Paterson's office.

Dairy farmers, of course, create and retain jobs and help provide an essential food product. Agriculture is a significant part of Upstate New York's economic well being.

Meanwhile, the D&C reports today that Rochester's homeless program, with a regular annual budget of $400,000, is receiving $4 million in stimulus funds.

No slam here against the homeless or helping the needy -- government handouts to both dairy farmers and the homeless raise certain small-government and free market philosophical issues ... but, isn't something amiss here? 

If stimulus money is supposed to, you know, stimulate the economy (at least in theory), shouldn't it actually go to programs that, you know, might actually stimulate the economy?

September 16, 2009 - 11:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, Dairy Farms.

daie_stein_dairy_rally.jpg

There's something out of whack with the market for dairy products -- the price of production continues to go up, while the price dairy farmers get for their milk remains at historic lows, but for the rest of us -- us consumers -- we're paying just as much as ever for milk and cheese.

Somebody's making a lot of money off the hard work of Genesee County's dairies, but it's not the farmers nor their workers.

In fact, some of them are facing the devastating loss of their businesses.

"The price of milk since January has been very low, to the point that we’re going to lose about $300,000," said Le Roy dairy farmer Dale Stein during a dairy rally at his farm called by Assemblyman Steve Hawley. "We anticipated through September that it would be low, but the price has still not come back up in September and now they’re looking at March, so we’re borrowing another large set of money to get through until March. The problem is now, there are many farmers who can’t get any more credit due to the large size of their loss. We’re able to borrow money, but we’re here today because of so many farmers who can’t."

lorihawkins_dairy.jpgHawley and Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R,I-Guilford) are calling on Gov. David Paterson to release more than $150 million in state funds (half this year and half next) to assist the state's family-owned dairy farmers. They're also calling on Washington lawmakers to change the price-setting mechanism and supports for dairy products.

Crouch believes the money should come either from unspent funds from around the state or from federal stimulus money, but state officials are saying the federal government won't allow ARRA money to be used to help dairy farmers.

"I think where there's a will there's a way," Crouch said. "We've seen different incidents where stimulus money has gone out and we've really raised our eyebrows and can't understand why it got spent in that direction. And here's an industry that's here and it's going to be closing down if we don't do something to help it. For every dollar that's spent on a New York dairy farm, between $3 and $7 goes back into the local economy. If that isn't economic stimulus, than I don't know what is."

Recently, ARRA money went to a Catholic charity in Buffalo, and Gov. Paterson also authorized a $200 payment per child for needy families to help with school supplies, using ARRA funds.

Crouch said that it's time for Gov. Paterson to step up and offer assistance to the state's dairy farmers -- even if it's not the $75 million they seek this year, Paterson should at least be in Washington lobbying for his state's dairy farmers.

Photos: Top, Dale Stein speaks during the rally. Bottom, Lori Hawkins, an unemployed milker, showed up at the rally to let it be known she is looking for dairy work.

September 16, 2009 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, steve hawley, Dairy Farms.

Local dairy farmers will join Assemblyman Steve Hawley in a rally in Le Roy at 11 a.m., calling on Gov. David Paterson to use federal stimulus funds to aid struggling dairies.

The dairy industry is caught between historically low prices for milk and rising production costs.

Stimulus funds are needed to stabilize Western New York's economy and create and maintain jobs, according to Hawley.

Hawley will be joined at the rally by Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R,I-Guilford).

Statement issued by Hawley's office:

New York State's family dairies are currently facing the most difficult economic conditions in the modern history of the industry. Dairy producers are being paid prices that are catastrophically below the price of production for their milk, regardless of the size of their operations, and economists predict that fluid milk prices may not increase for another year.

The governor's office has indicated that the stimulus funds can't be used in such a manner, but at the same time, a Catholic charity in Buffalo recently received stimulus funds to support its efforts.

The rally will be at Stein Farms, 8343 Gully Road, Le Roy.

August 2, 2009 - 11:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Chris Lee, kirsten gillibrand, Dairy Farms.

With dairy prices at a 30-year low, Genesee County dairy farmers may find some relief in new USDA price supports.

The government is essentially agreeing to pay above-market prices for some dairy products as part of the Dairy Product Price Support Program. In this 60-year-old program, the government buys dry milk, butter, and cheese and stores these products until they can be sold on the open market or donated to domestic or international charitable programs.

From a Rep. Chris Lee press release:

The increase, announced this morning by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will raise the price paid for nonfat dry milk from $0.80 per pound to $0.92 per pound, the price paid for cheddar blocks from $1.13 per pound to $1.31 per pound, and the price of cheddar barrels from $1.10 per pound to $1.28 per pound. Temporarily raising the price of these dairy products increases the price that dairy farmers receive for their milk.

The price increase will be in effect for three months. It is expected to boost dairy revenue by $243 million.

July 29, 2009 - 8:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Chris Lee, Dairy Farms.

Congressional members with a shared interest in the fate of dairy farmers have revived a caucus to work together on those concerns, and Rep. Chris Lee has been selected as a co-chair of the committee.

Other representatives from New York are Democrats Paul Tonko and Louise Slaughter.

Caucuses are officially sanctioned groups of lawmakers who join together to promote a common cause. Here's a complete list of such groups.

With dairy prices at historical lows, and production costs remaining high, dairy farmers have been looking to Washington for assistance and support.

The new caucus gives congressional members with a shared interest in dairy farming a means to study dairy farming issues and come up with recommendations that could conceivably lead to legislation or other assistance.

July 3, 2009 - 2:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, agriculture, Dairy Farms.

WBTA's Geoff Redick posted the final installment of his well-done five-part series on the dairy-price crisis from the perspective of Genesee County dairy farmers.

Here's all five parts:

June 10, 2009 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Dairy Farms.

hawley_dairyday.jpgPress Release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) today joined Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R, C, I – Canandaigua), bipartisan members of the State Legislature, representatives from the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York Farm Bureau, New York Grange, Northeast Dairy Foods, and American Dairy Association, along with local New York State farmers in celebration and recognition of New York State Dairy Day. 

Additionally, the coalition discussed the negative impacts of Assembly Bill 1867, dubbed the “Farm Death Bill” and called on the State Senate and Governor to “vote no” on the bill, which was passed by the Assembly last evening.

Hawley stated, “I was a third generation family farmer and I know firsthand how difficult it is to run a farm successfully.  Right now farmers are losing money on every gallon of milk, every pound of grain, because production costs here are so high.  We are in the midst of one of the worst recessions in decades and now is not the time to add additional burdens on our farmers.”

The Assemblyman continued, “This onerous bill, if passed into law, will be the death of New York State’s farms.  Farming is not just a job, it is a way of life and I want to keep that quality of life around for many more generations.”
 

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