February 19, 2024


Dairies in New York, US, declined by one-third in last five years




Farmland continues to disappear in the US state of New York, with dairies alone dropping by one-third in the past five years, according to new US federal data.


"I'm concerned about the state of agriculture and food production in this country," said US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a press conference this month. "Survey after survey continues to show a decline in the number of farms and farmland. The amount of farm decline is significant, and it's particularly significant in this survey."


In New York, there was a loss of 2,788 farms, including 1,865 dairy farms and 363,885 acres of farmland from 2017 to 2022. 


Christopher Wolf, an agricultural economist with Cornell University, said part of that is due to consolidation of farms. 


"We have about the same number of cows and more milk production so part of it is a generational thing," Wolf said. "Maybe the next generation doesn't want to come back." 


Some farmers may have been forced out or decided to get out of the industry due to financial hardship, he added. 


"With New York being a traditional dairy producing state, the area has a whole range of dairy farms from ones that have been around for many generations to newer ones, but it would tend to be the smaller older farms that are going out," Wolf noted.


Jola Szubielski, a spokesperson for the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, said the department is working to strengthen the supply chain and introduce new markets to New York farms. This year, they are doubling down their efforts to help current farmers grow and improve access to the industry for new farmers.


"The dairy industry has been working hard to educate our communities on the economics and unpredictability of dairy farming while collaborating with our partners in state government to identify solutions that support the future of the industry in the Empire State," said Keith Kimball, president of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association. 


Collaboration between farms, farmworkers and dairy industry stakeholders to protect the viability of the remaining dairy farms is crucial, Kimball said in a statement.


In the US, the number of farms declined by nearly 142,000 and a drop of 20 million acres of farmland from 2017 to 2022. Wolf said some of this is due to the land being developed. 


"Part of what is going on there is building houses and other construction-type developments. The other possibility is that some people just decided to stop farming," he explained. 

- Spectrum News

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