Tonawanda News

Columns

September 25, 2012

CONFER: Let the dairy industry grow

(Continued)

The long-term future is bright for Empire State dairy farmers. But, there are some short-term obstacles in their way that may inhibit — and, in many cases, outright prevent — their investment in this newfound demand. The most onerous and wasteful hurdle — especially since its expense will do nothing to increase efficiency or add to property, equipment or head of cattle — is the cost associated with the Clean Water Act.

The states administer the agricultural portion of the Act for the federal government and here, in New York, a farm goes from being “just” a farm to a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) once it has 200 mature dairy cows. Upon reaching that mark, the farm must go through a detailed permitting process and meet a multitude of regulations concerning theoretical animal waste runoff across its operations.

That requires the development and implementation of an environmental strategy which can cost in upwards of $150,000 at the start and $5,000 more each and every year. That outlay can stymie plans to expand, because the farmer has even larger investments (which would actually show rewards in improved revenues and profits) to make in more cows, the barns to house them and the equipment to feed, clean and milk them. The CAFO standards only add to that financial stress.

Understanding that this can make or break the burgeoning yogurt industry (as well as dairy as a whole), agribusiness and political leaders have been pushing for an increase in the CAFO threshold to 300 animals. That simple change would allow – and incentivize — hundreds of farms to expand (the average dairy operation in New York has 113 cows) without government burden, and capitalize on the increased demand.

At a state yogurt summit held in August, Governor Andrew Cuomo said it will become a duty of his administration to make good on the 300 head threshold. But, that’s easier said than done. In order to go through with this plan, the Department of Environmental Conservation must study it, put it to writing and put it out for public comment. The Governor will find foes in environmental quarters, as upon his announcement, various organizations influential in New York’s green movement blasted his idea. They will have strength in numbers and in influence (based on their connections with the DEC officials) which can — and might just — prevent the expansion of the CAFO lower limit.

Text Only
Columns
  • ADAMCZYK: The greatest luxury: peace, quiet It is not difficult, for anyone with the intent, to know more about you than you think they should. Every step of yours involving interactive technology can be molded into a picture of how you spend your time, money and thought.

    August 1, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On lines blurred, crossed and nonexistent It strikes me more and more how blurry the lines have gotten in all facets of our world, large and small.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tucker, Barbara.jpg TUCKER: Oh, the joys of Sound Off Never thought the words "Thank goodness for Sound Off" would ever be printed here.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • adamczyk, ed.jpg ADAMCZYK: And now for something completely different... Last weekend I attended a local movie theater (a plushy, posh experience; they design these places now to get you out of your living room and away from your home electronics) to watch the sun set on the British Empire.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • wallace, amy.jpg WALLACE: Too much information? Is there such a thing as TMI or too much information anymore? Some might say yes.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On reading and the lack thereof It was surprising to me a few weeks ago when a friend asked a group of us to estimate how many books we have each read over the last five years. The English teacher said 200 and he far and away led the pack. I was probably the median and my number was 20-25.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: A Con-Con would be a con game

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: Personal development, rendered in steel Accepting the premise that everyone needs to fill the same amount of time every day (24 hours, every day), some people use theirs rebuilding things, tangible things, and thus fulfill a few intangible goals.

    July 18, 2014

  • WALLACE: Festival season is underway Summer is the season of fairs and festivals. From Canal Fest in the Tonawandas to the Allentown Art Festival and Italian Heritage Festival in Buffalo to the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, the Western New York area has no shortage of things to do with the family over the summer.

    July 17, 2014