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

December 08, 2009

State To Help Dairy Farmers Address Market Volatility

Workshops Scheduled for Auburn, Bath, Dryden and Richfield Springs To Give Producers an Edge in Buyi

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced four upcoming workshops designed to help dairy farmers optimize their income while minimizing risk during times of uncertain and volatile milk and input prices.

Managing the Margin workshops will teach producers effective risk management strategies they can use to control price risks and improve their bottom line.

“These workshops will help producers better understand volatility in markets, how that volatility is changing, and what it means for managing the farm business,” the Commissioner said. “The challenge for producers today is much more than just a “good” milk price; rather, it is how profits are made at the margin, a margin that is constantly changing.”

Each day-long program is being coordinated by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets Crop Insurance Education Program and funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency. The full-day program was developed and will be conducted by John Berry, a former dairy farmer who now works for Cooperative Extension in Pennsylvania.

“Milk prices have always had their peaks and valleys; and input costs, such as feed and fertilizer, vary unpredictably as well,” the Commissioner said. “John will explain what the financial sector calls “margin risk management” and how dairy farmers, regardless of their herd size, can better plan buying and selling decisions to ensure a greater margin.”

Over the past two years, the dairy industry has experienced unprecedented price variations on both inputs and outputs, resulting in extreme, and many times record-setting, highs and lows. Given the enhanced volatility in the marketplace, understanding and managing margin risk has become increasingly important for producers.


The four workshops sponsored by the Department are all scheduled for January. The program begins at 10:00 a.m. and runs until 3:00 p.m. There is a $15 registration fee, which secures a spot at the workshop and lunch. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended.

Tuesday, January 12 - Bath

Bath Civil Defense Center, State Route 54 North, Bath

RSVP to Jim Grace at 607-664-2316 or email

Wednesday, January 13 - Dryden

Dryden Fire Hall, Route 13, Dryden

RSVP to Sharon VanDeuson at 607-753-5078 or email

Thursday, January 14 - Auburn

Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County, 248 Grant Avenue, Auburn

RSVP to Daniel Welch at 315-255-1183 x234

Friday, January 15 – Richfield Springs

Tally-Ho Restaurant, State Route 20, Richfield Springs

RSVP to Kevin Ganoe at 315-866-7920 x230 or email

The New York Farm Viability Institute, in conjunction with the New York Center for Dairy Excellence, will offer five additional workshops in other regions of the State in February. Those dates and locations will be announced soon by the New York Center for Dairy Excellence.

“Risk management is a critical skill for today’s farmers, whether we are looking at getting through a low milk price cycle, or positioning ourselves for the time when prices rebound,” said John Lincoln, co-owner of Linholm Dairy Farm in Bloomfield, and Board of Directors Chair for the New York Farm Viability Institute. “We are excited about expanding the reach of workshop opportunities to more parts of the State. Collaborative efforts like this one create the greatest bang for the buck for New York’s dairy farmers.”

Funding for the workshops is provided by the USDA Risk Management Agency and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets as a component of their cooperative agreement to provide risk management and crop insurance education to New York State producers.

2009 Press Releases