Lower milk prices are good news for shoppers, but bad news for New York dairy farms.
The Democrat & Chronicle reports the price of a gallon of milk has hit a 10-year low of $2.96 nationwide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s down almost a full dollar; a gallon of milk cost $3.87 in 2008.
As a result, dairy farmers are making less money and struggling just to stay afloat. The D&C notes the Empire State, the nation’s third largest producer of milk, has lost 27 percent of its dairy farms over the last decade and 6,000 total since 1989.
“Things are pretty dire right now,” Jerry Simonetty, managing partner of Hudson Valley Fresh Dairy in Poughkeepsie, told the newspaper. “Every month, local dairy farmers are losing money.”
According to CNHI Online, dairy farmers are forced to auction off their cows to keep up with payments to creditors. Others sell off their entire farms and still have debt.
“It has been heartbreaking,” Tom Hosking, a veteran livestock auctioneer in New Berlin, N.Y., told the publication. “They’re feeding America, and they deserve better.”
And things aren’t expected to get better anytime soon.
The D&C reports New York farms earned about $568 million in 2016, roughly one third of its 2013 numbers. According the state Farm Bureau, 2017 numbers likely won’t show any improvement — and neither will 2018.
What’s causing the lower milk prices?
Andrew Novakovic, a professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University, said in 2015 that one issue is milk volume has increased and people are drinking less milk than they used to. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans today drink about 42 percent less milk than they did in 1970.
According to the D&C, other issues include regulations cut by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help the booming Greek yogurt industry, but that growth hasn’t sustained.
By: Geoff Herbert