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New York has lost 23% of its dairy farms. Nearly one quarter of all our dairy farms.

Sen. Gillibrand says NY is losing dairy farms fast

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says New York's dairy farmers can't wait for next year's Farm Bill negotiations to start fixing the milk price. In a telephone press conference with reporters, the Democrat said dairy farmers face "an urgent crisis". Todd Moe reports.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

New York has lost 23% of its dairy farms.  Nearly one quarter of all our dairy farms.

That’s from 2002 to 2007, the most recent data available.  The North Country fared worse than most other regions of the state during that time, hemorrhaging 450 dairy farms, or 39%.  Since 2007, all of New York has lost another 300 farms.

Gillibrand released a five-point plan for providing short and long-term relief.  She reiterated her support for the Milk Income Loss Contract program, or MILC, which gives farmers money when the milk price falls below a certain level.  Some dairy cooperatives say they prefer an insurance program based on farms’ operating margins to MILC.

Gillibrand said the way milk is priced also needs more transparency.

One of the reasons these milk reimbursement rates are so volatile, I believe, is the lack of transparency, the lack of information, and maybe manipulation of data.

In 2009, Gillibrand’s colleague Senator Chuck Schumer called for a Justice Department investigation into potential milk price fixing.

Gillibrand said all of these things need to happen this year, before next year’s Farm Bill battles begin.

If we can get these things done before the Farm Bill, then we can continue to focus on different issues during the Farm Bill, so the more we get done for dairy before the Farm Bill, the stronger position we’ll be in to negotiate for our dairy farmers.

One of those issues may be exploring a brand new way for determining the price of milk.  The current one is many decades old.

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