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

June 01, 2010

Commissioner Hooker Recognizes June as Dairy Month

Month of Recognition and Celebration of New York’s 5,400 Family Dairy Farms

Throughout the month of June, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker will be honoring dairy farmers as June is Dairy Month in New York State.  With 5,400 dairy farms producing over 12 billion pounds of milk annually, New York is the nation’s third largest dairy state.

“June Dairy Month was originally celebrated to help stabilize the demand for milk and dairy products during the spring months of peak milk production,” the Commissioner said.  “Today, we simply honor our dairy farmers and the dairy processors for the safe, wholesome products they produce.”

“Dairy farmers are good people that are committed to living off the land and to producing a healthy and wholesome product,” the Commissioner said.  “They not only care about the end product, but the animals that produce it, as well as the land they work and the workers they employ.”

“Dairy processors contribute greatly to our communities as well, creating jobs, manufacturing milk into a variety of dairy products and ensuring we have a safe, affordable and abundant supply readily available.  Together, dairy farmers and processors impact the lives of so many, and therefore I ask you to join me this month in pouring a tall glass of cold milk and honor our hard working dairy farmers for all that they do.”

            Consumers can easily support New York dairy farmers by purchasing dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese, ice cream and yogurt.  Milk and dairy products offered for sale in retail stores are typically from local farms and dairy processors.  However, consumers can be sure they are buying a New York processed product by looking for the New York State code, usually found on the top of the milk carton, or on the side or bottom of other products. 

            The State dairy processing code will usually follow a suggested use-by date and is made up of two parts – a two digit state code and a three or more digit plant code.  For example:  a milk container stamped with JUN-18-10 21:43 36-563 means the suggested use by date is June 18, 2010; 21:43 stands for the time at which the product was processed and the last numbers tell us it was processed in New York (36) at plant #563.

Dairy is the State’s largest agricultural sector, contributing significantly to the State’s economy by generating $1.7 billion in 2009 at the farmgate, roughly half of the State’s total agricultural receipts, and providing some of the highest economic multipliers in the State.

According to Cornell University, for every new job created on a dairy farm, an additional 1.24 jobs are created in the community, and for every dollar of output, an additional $.83 is generated.  Dairy processing provides an additional 4.72 jobs for every job created in a plant, the highest multiplier in the State, and generates an additional $1.26 to the community for every dollar of product sold.

            On the farm, dairy farmers received a blend price of $14.36 per hundred pounds of milk in April or $1.23 a gallon.  That is compared with $11.33 in 2009 and $17.80 in 2008.  Milk prices are known to fluctuate; however, over the past 18 months, prices have been below the cost of production for New York dairy farmers. 

            USDA estimates the operating costs to produce a hundred pounds of milk to be $15.98 in April for New York, lower than in previous years with $17.20 and $17.66 in 2009 and 2008 respectively.  The Commissioner, along with his counterparts in the northeast, continue to work aggressively on the federal level to address severe low milk prices that hurt farmers nationwide.

New York has over 100 dairy processing plants.  Approximately one-third of the State’s milk production is used for fluid consumption.  The remainder of the State’s milk is used for processed dairy products.  Last year, New York produced 716 million pounds of cheese, 171 million pounds of cottage cheese, 15 million pounds of butter, 225 million pounds of yogurt and 37 million gallons of ice cream. 

New York ranks third in the nation for cheese production with mozzarella and cheddar being the most popular varieties.  The State leads the nation in the production of cottage cheese, which accounts for a quarter of the national production. 

The average dairy farm in New York State is family owned and consists of 113 cows, producing an average of 20,071 pounds of milk per cow per year.  The top three leading dairy counties in the State are Wyoming, St. Lawrence and Cayuga.

2010 Press Releases