Helping Dairy Farmers Keep Up With Booming Demand
Western New York's dairy farmers are getting a push from some high powered lawmakers. The efforts, on the state and federal level, are tied to the booming Greek yogurt industry. There's barely enough milk being produced to support it. Lawmakers want to change that.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Eight generations of Colbys have farmed these lands.
"We're milking about 250 cows," said Bob Colby.
Through thick and thin.
"There's some days you second guess yourself, but all in all, it's nice to be your own boss, nice to work outside."
Farmers are optimists by nature, ut with the high price of feed and just about everything else, the market is shaky.
"The dairy business is cyclical," Colby said.
"We're struggling right now. It's tough right now," said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president.
Western New York farmers are getting more markets, for their milk. One of the newest, and fastest growing, will be produced at a plant just outside Batavia.
Greek yogurt is all the rage right now, but according to Senator Charles Schumer, the region's cows aren't producing enough milk.
"To be able to meet that demand, we need to increase the number of cows on the farm here in New York," Norton said.
Schumer figures farmers will have to up milk production by 15 percent to meet the demand at Muller Quaker and the state's nearly 30 yogurt-producing plants.
"It's a good problem to have when someone wants your product," Norton said.
"The yogurt could be a fad, but I think dairy products on the whole fit New York very well," said Colby. "The yogurt is just one segment. There's a lot of dairy products out there."
In a move designed to make growth easier, some federal lawmakers are pushing a plan to give farmers the same tax breaks on livestock purchases that other businesses get for buying equipment. That would allow farmers to use their own money for more purchases, instead of having to borrow.
"More cows is going to be more investment for our dairy farmers. It's an opportunity for the dairy industry here in New York, instead of shrink, to grow," said Norton.
Colby milks in a new $800,000 barn. He's glad lawmakers are recognizing that it's agriculture which drives the economy in these parts.
"Agriculture can play a key role in us coming back in this economy."
An economy that could grow with new products and new markets.
"We're optimistic the dairy industry is going to be stable enough."
A bright future?
"I think so," said Colby.
Good enough to bet on it.