Struggling New York dairy farmers look to Albany for help
Milk prices are dropping as the costs of producing it keep going up. Now many farmers in Clinton County, New York are trying to figure out how to stay in business.
"In this area of Clinton County the Champlain Valley has some of the most productive ground in the state," said Todd Gireaux with Gireaux Farms.
But fertile soil isn't the problem farmers here face. It's milk prices. They dropped significantly since 2014. What used to be $24 per hundred pounds has fallen to $16. And farmers say that doesn't cover the costs of labor and equipment. "The fact that we are around $15 to 16 range and it's costing us $17 to 18 to make that milk -- we're taking a hit right off the bat," Gireaux said.
"How many people could take a 30 to 40-percent pay cut and continue their lives with the same cost of living, and go on for an indefinite period of time? This has gone of for so long that it's gotten to the point were we can't afford to even get out," said Ashley Burness with Burness Farms.
"I've been there. I've seen cows be sold and it's not a pleasant feeling -- just your whole life, everything you love is gone," said dairy farmer James Gauy.
And when local farmers struggle it also takes a toll on the local businesses that supply them. "When milk prices are good and these guys are making money they spend money and it trickles down more than probably any other industry in Clinton County," said Robert Duprey with Duprey's Feed and Supplies.
So now the county is losing money, and the opportunity to groom new farmers. "If dairy farming is their dream, I don't want their dream to turn into a nightmare," Burness said.
"We're getting one and two generations removed from the farm, so we need to really support our young farmers," said Tony LaPierre with the New York Farm Bureau.
All of them are working to save what they love. "I just don't want to see anymore people going out. There's good family farms that are struggling to make ends meet," Gauy said.
Next week Farm Bureau will representatives will be in Albany to discuss options to help farmers with state lawmakers.