New York is home to more than 4,000 dairy farms.
Although times were tough for farmers before this pandemic, it costs more now for dairy farmers to produce milk than what is worth as Kendra Lamb explains.
“Our milk price dropped from over $17 per hundredweight to $11 per hundredweight really quickly,” Lamb said. “That $11 is well below the cost of what it takes to produce that milk.”
Kendra Lamb and her husband run Lamb Farms in Genesee, a dairy farm that has been in her husband’s family for three generations with around 4,000 cows.
Like many farms in New York, they produce milk and milk products for schools and restaurants around the state. However, with these closed, overall demand for dairy products is down at least 10%.
“The change in the market was obviously a drastic flip of the switch,” Lamb explained. “And with milk supply there is no way to turn on or turn off when we’re trying to adapt to the market.”
Lamb says they are a part of Upstate Farms Cooperative that helps get the milk from her farm in Western New York to different markets around the state. While her farm has not had to dump milk yet, getting milk into the hands of people that need it is not as easy as it sounds.
“Safety checks and quality checks to make sure the milk meets the standards we are looking for, all of that happens at the processing plant. And as we have seen on the news there are a lot of processing plants that are struggling,” Lamb said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo this week announced that the state will be launching a Nourish New York Initiative that will help get food from upstate farmers to food banks across the state. While specific details have yet to be released, Lamb says that they hope to participate.
“We have a lot of product, it doesn’t stop flowing and our demand is going down, so there is going to be some excess and the idea that we can utilize that well and get it into the hands of families that need it is something that any dairy farmer is going to be really excited about,” Lamb said.
Each dairy item has a unique plant code, so if you’re at the grocery store and see it starts with the numbers 36 you know you’re buying milk products from local dairy farmers in New York.