By KATELYN WALLEY-STOLL
Specialist in agricultural business management with the SWNY program for dairy, livestock and field crops
Summer just wouldn’t be the same without the ice cream cones, melted cheese on burgers, and a nice glass of cold milk with dinner. Milk is abundant in our region thanks to the dairy farmers in our region who work tirelessly to provide safe, high quality and low cost dairy products to our families. We’re especially enjoying dairy this month as we celebrate “June is the month of dairy products” Across the country.
In the southwestern New York region (encompassing Steuben, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Erie counties), there are over 680 dairy farms. These farms care for 75,000 dairy cows that produce enough milk to provide three servings of dairy products to 2 million people every day. This milk travels from farms to local facilities where it is bottled into milk for schools and stores, made into blocks and slices of cheese, and grown for products like yogurt and buttermilk.
The dairy is a year-round operation where farms and employees provide quality cow care every day of the year, regardless of holidays, cold weather or other challenges. Routine tasks take place like cleaning and checking the health of the cows, providing fresh feed and water several times a day, and milking 2-3 times a day. To help make this all happen efficiently and smoothly, farm owners and managers employ other people and work with many different agricultural service providers.
An average dairy farm with 100 cows will need around 2.5 employees for everything to run smoothly, including family partners and paid full or part time employees. However, these are only the people employed by that particular farm. Many people work on a dairy farm, including the services of other people like vets, nutritionists, milk carriers, hoof cutters, consultants and many more. So while that specific farm may only have 2.5 people on its payroll, the impact of a single dairy farm on the job market is valuable.
From an economic point of view, dairy products are a big novelty in our region and offer many economic advantages. Studies show that for every dollar a farmer receives, $ 2.29 is generated in the local community. Agriculture remains inherently local – the store where feed is purchased is a short drive away, the tractor repair business is down the road, and the vet used by the farm is close enough to answer to calls within a short period of time.
A single 100-cow dairy farm could have an economic impact of up to $ 2.78 million in the region and create 29 direct and indirect jobs. It takes a lot of moving parts to take a raw product like milk and turn it into commodities that we can buy and enjoy. These moving parts provide jobs, economic activity and a supply chain whose top priority is safety and quality.
See DAIRY, PAGE D5
When it comes to the environment, dairy farms act as stewards to protect our rural landscape in a sustainable way. Dairy farms must meet certain state and federal requirements for storing and handling manure by following detailed nutrient management plans. These efforts help protect local waterways and conserve soils. Some dairy farms have even implemented systems that use a methane digester to collect waste and generate electricity that powers the farm and the surrounding community. Farms also use their livestock waste as a natural fertilizer to return essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the soil.
Dairy farmers farm for many different reasons, but one of the most important is that they love cows! Cows are amazing animals that work efficiently to take products that humans cannot consume and turn them into things that we can. To do this, they must be cared for with humanity and precision. For cows, this includes fans and sprinklers to beat the summer heat, “pedicures” to keep their hooves at a comfortable length, and monthly checkups with the vet. Dairy farmers even employ nutritionists to create specialized diets uniquely formulated to meet the needs of cows based on their lactation and gestation status.
Let’s not forget the end product: milk. Milk is an inexpensive way to access high quality nutrition. One serving of milk contains 8 grams of protein as well as calcium, vitamins A, B2 and B12 and D; potassium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, omega 3 and more. Milk consumption is associated with a lower incidence of osteoporosis and age-related muscle loss, and increased physical performance.
In June, we celebrate the dairy farmers in our community who take care of the cows, the environment and provide healthy and safe products that we can all use to feed ourselves and our families! Support your local dairy farmer by choosing real milk from the grocery store, asking for an extra slice of cheese on your sandwich, and driving carefully behind tractors and other slow vehicles this season.
SWNYDLFC is a partnership between Cornell University and the CCE associations of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Steuben counties. Their team includes Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management (716-640-0522) and Amy Barkley, Livestock Management (716-640-0844). The CCE is a recognized employer and educator for valuing AA / EEO, protected veterans and people with disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.