It’s unknown exactly how many dairy farmers have lost access to markets in the Northeast this spring, but it’s more than a handful.
Oneida-Lewis Milk Producers, a marketing cooperative with 13 dairy farms, has been forced to find new markets for its members, reports the Watertown Daily Times. Its contract with Elmhurst Dairy, Jamaica, N.Y., had been in place for about a year before ending last week.
“All of these cuts relate to a market that has been losing a scary amount of Class I volume, has not been growing in Class II and III (or at least not that much), and has seen steady growth in milk production,” says Andy Novakovic, a dairy economist with Cornell University.
“It is not so unusual for farms to lose market if they have a quality problem or are a high-cost pickup,” says Novakovic. “The New York farms that have been hit this time around are large and, for the most part, good quality farms.”
Upstate-Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y. and AgriMark, Lawrence, Mass., had already closed their memberships late last year. Others, such as St. Albans Creamery and Dairy Farmers of America, are being very selective in the farms they take on, says Novakovic.