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New York Dairy Farms Struggling Through Drought
July 13, 2016

With no significant rainfall since April, farmers across our region are struggling. The drought is the most recent in a series of challenges facing local dairy farms. 

“A lot of farms are going to go out of business,” Gina Blakemore, Co-Owner of Sleeper’s Ridge Holsteins in Horseheads, said.

Dairy farms in our area are struggling.

“Most farms are losing money every day, so it costs more to produce our milk than what we get paid for it,” Blakemore said.

Blakemore and her husband own Sleeper’s Ridge Holsteins in Horseheads. She says the combination of record low milk prices, increased minimum wage, and now the drought, have left them struggling to pay their bills.

“It’s really the perfect storm and it’s really terrifying,” Blakemore said.

And she says they aren’t the only one trying to figure out how to make ends meet.

“The majority of farms in New York are family farms and that’s what’s going to be going out of business,” Blakemore said.

Each dairy cow eats about 80 pounds of feed per day, that’s an amount farmers will have trouble keeping up with after this year’s drought.

“The hay is a fraction of what it should be and the corn is maybe a third of the height that it should be by now so we’ll be looking at you know the ultimate yield is going to be down significantly,” Blakemore said.

On top of the financial struggles farmers have already been facing after recent legislation, our region’s drought will leave many of them paying more for feed then ever before.

“We won’t have the feed that we normally have for cows to put up for next year and we’ll have to buy corn,” Blakemore said.

All things considered, Blakemore says something needs to be done before one of New York State’s biggest industries goes under.

“Number one moneymaker for the state of New York is dairy and we’re really wondering when the Governor is going to notice that the dairy industry and New York is really suffering,” Blakemore said.

Throughout her 16 years of farming, Blakemore says this is the driest summer she can remember. She adds that although there may be an end to the drought in the near future, she doubts anything significant can be done about milk prices due to the current market.

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Summer 2018