Valatie dairy farmer Tim Ooms said it’s been a tough couple of years for those in the dairy industry.
“Unfortunately we’re a supply and demand economy and we’re making too much milk right now,” Ooms said.
Countries like China and Russia used to purchase a lot of U.S. produced milk. But that’s changed recently due to global milk production being on the rise.
Coupled with the fact that fewer people are drinking milk the U.S. these days, about 1,000, or 20 percent of dairy farms in New York State have closed in recent years.
But, that hasn’t helped with the supply surplus:
“At the same time other farms have expanded,” New York Farm Bureau Manager of Public Affairs Steve Ammerman said. “We’re still about the same number of cows in New York producing milk. A lot of times at the farm goes out of business they’ll sell their cows to their neighbors, they’ll sell their land to their neighbors as well.”
Though sales of dairy products like cheese and yogurt are expanding, they don’t earn as much as fluid milk does.
As a result, many farmers are looking for ways to cut costs:
“Three years ago in June we put in robotic milkers which is basically just an arm that goes across, cleans the cow off, hooks the machine up and when it’s done takes and sprays each teat with iodine then they go, it’s all on a voluntary basis,” Ooms said.
A Ooms and Sons Dairy Farm uses solar power to heat water used in the production process. They also have collar monitors that record everything from milk production and feed intake to ovulation times in an effort to increase their chances of impregnating the cattle.
Though Ooms is looking to make his farm as efficient as possible, there are some things he’s not willing to compromise:
“Even in tough times you got to take care of your cows, we try to feed them the best ration possible,” Ooms said. “If you take care of them they’ll take care of you.”
The Department of Agriculture issued a statement on Monday, saying they’re expediting Milk Marketing Advisory Council to research new and innovative uses for New York Dairy Products and increase consumption of New York produced milk.