N.Y. Governor Cuomo Hosts First New York State Yogurt Summit

August 15, 2012 10:21 AM

The state will take new actions to increase CAFO caps to help dairy farmers increase herd size and increase production to ensure the yogurt economic boom continues in the state.

Source: New York Governor’s Office news release

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today hosted the first New York State Yogurt summit to hear ideas from industry leaders, farmers and other stakeholders to help ensure that the yogurt industry continues to grow and create jobs in New York.

Since 2000, the number of yogurt processing plants in New York has increased from 14 to 29 today. From 2005 to 2011, New York's yogurt plants doubled in production. Over the same time period, the amount of milk used to make yogurt in New York increased dramatically from 158 million pounds to about 1.2 billion pounds. Most of the increase in yogurt production is due to the introduction and production of Greek-style yogurt, which requires three times more milk than traditional yogurt.

In 2011, New York’s dairy manufacturers employed 8,070 people with total wages of $414 million, a 14% increase from 2005. The gradual increase of yogurt production in New York has had a positive effect on businesses throughout state, not only for the yogurt industry, but for dairy farms, produce manufacturers and local communities across New York.

Dairy farming and processing combined presents a total impact of $8.9 billion to New York’s economy. Moreover, one on-farm job is created for every 40-50 cows added. For every new job created on a dairy farm, an additional 1.24 jobs are created in the local community. And for every job created in the dairy processing industry, 5.72 jobs are created upstream.

“The yogurt industry is a true success story in New York and today’s yogurt summit is a prime example of how state government is going above and beyond to actively work with the industry to help it grow in New York and create jobs in New York,” said Governor Cuomo. “As an entrepreneurial government, we brought all the stakeholders to the table to help the dairy industry and yogurt producers enhance their relationship so it is both beneficial to the companies and to the state. New York will do everything it can to facilitate a strong, prosperous partnership. We want the yogurt business to do well, and continue to thrive in New York.”

Many ideas were presented and discussed at the summit.

As a first step of the ongoing conversations with the industry, Governor Cuomo announced at the Summit that the state will take new actions to help dairy farmers increase the size of their herds and therefore increase production to ensure the yogurt economic boom continues in New York. This will be done by changing the state regulations to allow for smaller farms to have more cows while being exempt from some permitting processes.

At the Governor’s direction, the state is proposing to increase the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) cap from 200 to 300 milking cows. That means that small dairy farms will be able to add to their herd and at the same time be exempt from burdensome requirements that small farms face when they have more than 200 head of cattle. The costs of complying with the CAFO requirement can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars which makes expansion economically unfeasible.

This new regulation will help farmers save money therefore allowing them to expand and create jobs. There are more than 800 dairy farms with 100-199 cows that could benefit from this reform and expand milk production for yogurt manufacturers. The Farm Bureau estimates that if just 10% of those farms add 100 cows to their herd, milk production would grow by more than 160 million pounds of milk per year. The CAFO threshold increase can be made while still ensuring environmental protections.

In addition, the State will work with the dairy and yogurt industries to lower energy costs by increasing and incentivizing the construction and use of anaerobic digesters, which turn waste produced on the farm into energy that can be used by the farmers. This not only allows farmers to more easily manage the large amount of waste produced by cows, but save money on energy cost by turning that waste into a renewable source of energy. The digesters also produce electricity onsite, offsetting a farm’s electricity purchases from their utility and reducing energy costs.

The New York Power Authority will work with the farmers and manufacturers to determine the feasibility of constructing anaerobic digesters in locations throughout the state for manufactures and farms who cannot afford to purchase one. In addition NYPA will explore new incentives to help larger farms build digesters of their own.

Senior administration officials, led by Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, will meet with the Public Service Commission to find a way to reduce interconnection costs between digesters and the state's electricity grid. Senior administration staff will also work with industry to discuss those federal issues that impede the growth of dairy, develop an action plan, and meet with congressional leaders to effect change.

Today's meeting was the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. There will be a follow up meeting based the issues raised during today's discussions.

Read more here.

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