Three times a day at Country Ayre Farms in Dewittville, Chautauqua County, crews milk about 750 cows.
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They ship about 52,000 pounds of milk a day, or more than 6,000 gallons, to Sorrento in Buffalo, makers of cheese.


What You Need To Know

The New York Farm Bureau identifies dairy pricing as a national priority

Dairy producers are calling for a modernized pricing system

Prices have rebounded, but so have costs to run the farms


Senior partner and long-time dairy farmer Richard Kimball, like all dairy producers, does not get to set the price he’s paid for his milk, but is instead bound by a complex federal formula, based primarily on the milk people drink, which he says is on the decline.


He says prior to and at the height of the pandemic, dairy farmers saw some of their lowest prices ever and credits government programs for helping farmers survive through the shutdown.


“We would have been really hurting,” Country Ayre Farms senior partner Richard Kimball said. “And it would have driven people out of business.”


Kimball also serves as president of the Chautauqua County Farm Bureau, and spent time on the state board as well. He’s calling for a new and improved modernized dairy pricing system that will pay farmers more and better reflect how milk is used today, and in what products.


“And it’s hard to reflect that in our current pricing system the way it’s done,” Kimball said. “Focus more on the value added products the cheeses, the yogurts, the butter.”


“Milk pricing is very complicated,” New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said. “And it’s a very slow process.”


The New York Farm Bureau in Albany identified dairy pricing as one of its national priorities for the year, and is keeping an eye on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is proposing hearings with the USDA and legislation to review the pricing structure.


Fisher says while he agrees prices have rebounded some, supplies like fertilizer may be grounded indefinitely.


“Especially with what’s going in Russia and Ukraine, a lot of fertilizer comes out of that part of the world,” Fisher said. “So we may not even get fertilizer for some farms this year.”


Kimball agrees the price he gets for his milk has gone up, but like Fisher said, so has his expenses.


Fuel and grain, as well as fertilizer, he says he may not even get in time for the upcoming planting season.


“It’s a little scary right now,” Kimball said. “We’re stable. We’re watching every penny.”


And they’re banking on the next generation of cows, just recently born.


In addition to Gillibrand’s measure and call for hearings, the Farm Bureau is keeping its eye on the 2023 Farm Bill, which it says will be voted on next year, once the 2018 measure expires.

Two more local dairies are getting out after another tough year.

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