Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

February 23, 2009

Commissioner Sets Date to Discuss Milk Price Crisis

Milk Marketing Advisory Council to Meet March 5th in Albany, Input Welcome

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker announced that members of the Milk Marketing Advisory Council (MMAC) will meet on March 5th in Albany to discuss options surrounding the current milk price crisis, along with other milk marketing related topics.

"We’ve known it was coming, and the inevitable has happened," the Commissioner said. "A slowing economy and a surplus of milk on the market have resulted in milk prices falling below the cost of production, and it’s only expected to get worse. I look to the Milk Marketing Advisory Council as the eyes and ears in the industry, and anticipate an open and honest discussion on the realities and impact of these low prices on March 5th."

The MMAC is made up of representatives from all sectors of the dairy industry and was created to advise the Commissioner on matters related to dairy policy. Chaired by Dr. Mark Stephenson of Cornell University, members of the MMAC will gather on March 5th to discuss several issues, including milk balancing, milk prices, federal order reform and any proposed state initiatives.

Dairy producers are encouraged to submit their concerns or ideas to the Department by emailing Producers can also share their concerns with any of the members of the MMAC, who include:

· Craig Alexander of O-AT-KA Milk Products Coop., Inc. in Batavia

· Kathie Arnold, a dairy producer in Truxton and with Northeast Organic Farming Association

· Mindy Bockstein, Chair of the New York State Consumer Protection Board in Albany

· Gary Dake of Stewart’s Processing Corp. in Saratoga Springs

· Ed Gallagher of Dairylea in Syracuse

· Glen Gasstrom, a dairy producer in Ilion

· John Jennings of Great Lakes Cheese Co. in Adams

· Bruce Krupke of New York State Dairy Foods in North Syracuse

· Jonathan Lamb, a dairy producer in Oakfield and with Northeast Dairy Producers Association

· Dan McGarr, a dairy producer in King Ferry

· Eric Ooms, a dairy producer in Old Chatham and with New York Farm Bureau

· Neal Rea, a dairy producer in Cambridge and with Agri-Mark

· Dave Schieferstine, a dairy producer in Rome and with Oneida County Farm Bureau

· Ed Schoen, a dairy farmer in Phelps and with Dairy Farmers of America

· Dirk Young, a dairy farmer in Skaneateles

Governor David Paterson has been working closely with members of New York’s Congressional delegation to support New York’s struggling dairy farmers, asking them specifically to support enhancing the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, a federal safety net designed to compensate dairy producers when milk prices fall below a specified level.

Dairy farmers are currently experiencing devastatingly low milk prices as a result of the dwindling economy. The recession has weakened the demand for dairy products both domestically and globally. Restaurant sales are down, as are pizza sales that utilize the largest share of cheese in the U.S. Exports of dairy products have declined 37 percent from a year ago as well. While milk production growth has slowed, it has not been enough to offset the decrease in consumption. Consequently, this has resulted in an increase in inventories, driving the price of milk down for farmers not only in New York, but across the nation.

Last year in January, New York dairy farmers received $20.36 per hundredweight for their milk; this January, they received $13.39 per hundredweight or $1.15 per gallon. Economists predict that the blend price could drop to $11.00 over the next several months. The average cost of producing a hundred pounds of milk in New York right now is estimated at $17.50 per hundredweight or $1.50 a gallon.

New York is the nation’s third largest dairy state, generating over $2 billion in milk sales annually. As part of the Northeast dairy region of the United States, they produce over 20 percent of our nation’s milk, providing fresh, wholesome and nutritious dairy products to 25 million people on the East Coast.

The economic impact of New York’s dairy industry is over $10 billion in New York State, and $50 billion regionally. New York has 6,200 dairy farmers with an average herd size of about 100 cows. Studies have shown that one dairy cow generates at least $13,000 in economic activity that is typically spent locally benefiting feed suppliers, equipment dealers, and small businesses in upstate, rural communities.

2009 Press Releases