New York’s dairy farms have been struggling for years. But since the pandemic began, many family-owned farms have been hit especially hard by inflation and volatile prices.
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Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo / WSKG News Clark Farms Creamery’s dairy processing plant, at the family farm in Delhi.

Clark Farms Creamery has been in Delaware County, near Delhi, since 1907. Like many small-scale, family farms in the area, they’ve struggled with price fluctuations and inflation stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kyle Clark is a fifth generation dairy farmer who returned to help run the family farm, after getting a degree in agricultural sciences. He resurrected the farm’s creamery in 2020.

Clark said they have not had issues with obtaining workers and are currently fully staffed. He said the next step is building a new barn to expand operations.

Clark Farms has its own dairy processing and bottling plant. The farm also has a store where people can buy Clark dairy products, as well as maple syrup, bread, and other local goods.

But Kyle Clark said because of supply chain issues, operating costs have gone up. Even seeds, fertilizer and the bottles the milk comes in are more expensive.

“The price of milk’s definitely improved, especially in the last couple months. But relative to the increase in input costs, and even the availability of a lot of those things… it’s not keeping up,” Clark said.

Hudson Valley Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19) visited Clark Farms last week. He’s pushing for legislation that he argued would help small-scale, local farms.

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Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo / WSKG News Rep. Antonio Delgado, who represents Delaware, Otsego, and parts of Broome County.

“Making sure that our milk can go to our schools, milk can go to our hospitals, milk can go to our community centers. Wherever there’s more localized opportunities to grow and build from, that should be the focus,” Delgado said.

Delgado and other elected officials have supported the New York Farm Bureau’s efforts to push reform of the federal milk pricing system, which they say makes it harder for smaller, family farms to do business.

“We are seeing a lot of trends towards consolidation, you know, big AG, economies of scale in the name of efficiencies. And it does hurt our family-owned, smaller farm operations. They end up getting squeezed out,” Delgado said.

Delgado has cosponsored legislation to provide whole milk in schools. Currently, students are only offered 1 percent and fat-free milk.

Delgado also said he’s concerned about recent rumors that New York City Mayor Eric Adams may ban flavored milks in city schools. Delgado argued that would hurt upstate dairy farmers and limit students’ options.

Australians are being warned of another price hike, with the cost of milk set to go up.

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