News / Blog

Lewis County (NY) Dairy Farms Situation
May 7, 2015

Because of the increased amount of milk currently in the New York State market and surrounding states, along with the decrease in exports by 3-4%, we are seeing an unusually high amount of milk in the state. The balancing plants whose role is to help move milk around and keep all plants that need milk and those plants that have too much balanced, are full. The cheese plants that do not make a perishable product are also running at full capacity. So the milk currently being produced in New York State is exceeding the demand of food manufactures and the fluid milk needs. The food manufactures that are making a more perishable product do not need more milk at this time, also. The New York State Agriculture Commissioner, Richard Ball is aware of the issue here in Lewis County and has assigned staff to help assist the farmers and Cornell Cooperative Extension – Lewis County with connections and information on cooperatives and the milk handling system in New York State.
Our situation is that nine independent dairy farms that shipped their milk with Dick Meyer, a milk hauler, will no longer be able to ship to Queensboro, effective May 31, 2015. They have been with this milk hauler some of them for 12 years. They have all been given a 30 day notice. These farms are located in the Castorland, Port Leyden, and Copenhagen and Lowville area of the county. They average 58,000 lbs of milk a day and if you plan on $19.00/lb milk this is roughly $4 million/year in revenues generate by these farms. They are averaging 59lbs of milk per day per cow. They have roughly 987 milk cows between the 9 farms, this does not include young stock and replacement heifers.
The farms have made calls to different coops to try to find a coop that would accept their milk. They have tried Jeff Bulk, AgriMark, Upstate, Lowville Producers, Holland Patent (maybe in July), and Boonville (have a waiting list).
The nine farms are listed below:
Carl and Doris Hoppel * 110 cows Brian Hoppel (son, part of operation)
Loren and Debbie Zehr * 240 cows
Dean and Donna Moser * 100 cows
Mitchell and Rose Larkins * 17 cows Raymond and Elizabeth Larkins (transfer to son)
Andy Maciejko * 70 cows
Joe and Alice Maciejko * 70 cows
Cathy and Gerry Bush * 85 cows
Bill Hellinger * 95 cows
Brian and Lori Reape * 200 cows
This also affects 9 employees located on the above mentioned farms and an employee of the milk hauler. These 10 individuals along with two or more family members per farm will be unemployed if this situation cannot be fix. That is beyond the stress that is being placed on each of these farms, currently.
Every one of these farms pays taxes in Lewis County, buys feed, equipment, groceries and other necessary day to day items here in this county and all of that will be lost.
Their spokesperson is Cathy Bush. Her contact information is cell: 315-771-4479 and her email is cathylittlefield@yahoo.com. The milk hauler for this group is Dick Meyer and his contact is cell: 315-523-0372, home: 315-493-1536, email: meyer_trucking08@yahoo.com. Brian and Lori Reape have offered to provide their farm for tours if that is needed.
I also need to clarify that we currently have the Oneida – Lewis Coop in nearly the same situation in the southern end of the county and they have been on the spot market sometimes daily or weekly for over a month now, searching for an outlet for their milk. Combining these dairy farms is 10% of Lewis County’s farms and it is a significant issue for this county.
This group has been directed from Ag and Markets (5-6-2015) to make sure that DFA/DMS will not take them before they form a coop and go in that direction. With the assistance of Ag and Markets they now have the information they need to start working on paperwork to fast-track a coop. This will be important because it will probably be a significant challenge to find any manufacture in these troubling times that will be willing to take on 9 independent producers.
They will continue to meet and Cornell Cooperative Extension will continue to provide assistance with connections and possible leads to help move this process forward in an expedited manner. Any suggestions or thoughts to help this group of farmers would be most appreciated.

Thoughts or suggestions can be directed to:
Michele Ledoux
Executive Director
Cornell Cooperative Extension Lewis County
Mel14@cornell.edu
O: 315-376-5270
Cell: 315-771-3798


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