State’s dairy farmers protect environment

New York dairy farmers are proud of the fresh, local products they provide to feed the state’s families. They also take great care to protect their animals and the environment. However, Larry Beahan’s recent Another Voice would have you think our family farmers are ready to throw years of hard work aside to blatantly pollute our environment. Give us some credit for being the national leaders on environmental stewardship. That didn’t happen without having responsible family farms. Also, we have a vested interest in making sure the water is clean because our families and our farm animals drink the same water.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recognized our efforts, at the same time understanding that upstate is seeing amazing growth in the yogurt industry. To ignore the potential and not be prepared to meet the demand for local milk would simply be a huge mistake for rural areas that need these good jobs. He has displayed real leadership proposing to help the smallest of farms grow their herds to no larger than 299 cows before more extensive and costly permitting requirements kick in that restrict growth. The current limit is 199 cows. The recent public hearings made sure it is an open process, receiving feedback from all who care about this state.

New York farmers are working to make sure all of this growth is done responsibly while maintaining the environmental integrity that people have come to expect from their family farms. There will still be numerous state and federal conservation programs in place that we use every day on our farms to protect our land and water. And New York’s standards will still far exceed federal regulations.

By continuing to contribute to the rural economy in a safe way, New York farmers will have even more to be proud of.

Dean Norton

President, New York Farm Bureau