Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sen. Gillibrand Calls On USDA To Provide Additional Relief For NY's Struggling Dairy Farmers

WAER file photo

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says most New York dairy farmers are still struggling to survive amid declining prices and an unstable dairy market.  She says the challenges have been compounding for years, and the pandemic only made things worse.

"Between the disruption in the dairy supply chain, pandemic related costs,  increases in feed, labor, equipment, and energy, and slashed revenues, it has been almost impossivle for them to recover."

She and senator Chuck Schumer are calling on the USDA to deliver additional payments from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP.  Gillibrand says the payments were paused in January when the Biden Administration wanted to do a 60-day regulatory review.  But she says the payments never resumed. 

"CFAP payments have been a lifeline to our dairy producers during this time of financial stress, especially our small and mid-sized dairy operations, which have been hit the hardest by this pandemic, and have few cash reserves on hand to cushion their losses when milk prices fall below production costs."

Unlike other producers, Gillibrand says dairy farmers can’t simply stop production to limit cost and waste when demand drops.  As a result, she says many were forced to dump millions of pounds of milk when restaurants and schools closed.  Gillibrand also wants to launch an investigation into possible corruption and anti-trust issues in milk pricing. 

"If you have a market that's fundamentally flawed, and constantly leaving producers unable to survive in the industry, there's a problem."

She says the dairy industry has been declining for about 20 years, and has been trying to address problems during her 10 years on the senate agriculture committee.  She says the troubles facing dairy farmers threaten the country’s ability to feed its own people, which poses a national security issue. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at