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Dairy Farmers Discuss Market Struggles at Tenney Roundtable

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Congresswoman Claudia Tenney held a roundtable with local dairy farmers Thursday afternoon to discuss the struggles they’re facing in the dairy market.

The meeting, held at Whittaker Farms in Whitney Point, drew over a dozen local farmers who said their biggest problem is the low price of milk.

“Farmers are struggling. For the last year and a half or so prices of milk have dropped considerably and it’s a real struggle. There’s not many that are making a profit.”

Judi Whittaker owns Whittaker Farms, a staple to the community for the last 103 years. She’s had to make some changes to keep her business afloat.

“You’re pinching your pennies. You’re choosing specifically what projects you’re working on, what repairs you're doing because you can’t do them all.”

Whittaker is just one of the thousands of farmers in the state facing the same problem. Milk prices peaked in 2014 at $24 for roughly 9 gallons, but now, prices have been cut nearly in half to $14.

“Our price for milk is set, and we don’t know what we’re getting for it for 30 days so we’re sending it out our door and paying for it to be sent and we don’t know what we’re getting.”

That cut is making it hard for dairy farmers to make ends meet.

“We still have to pay all the property taxes and the cost of that’s not going down, the price of fuel is going up, the cost of labor is going up.”

New York State is the third largest dairy producer in the nation, and Congresswoman Tenney said she’s doing all she can in Washington to address the issue plaguing the state’s farmers.

“On the federal side we’re trying to do what we can to help, trying to figure out a way around the milk order, make it better, we’re also trying to fix it through the farm bill, the March of Protection program has been an utter disaster for farmers. We’re trying to fix that and make it better.”

Whittaker blames the low prices on things like schools only offering 1% milk instead of whole milk, and people choosing alternatives such as almond milk. She says the best thing people can do to help, is to buy local.

“Support your local farms where you can. Go to the local farmers market. Come out and help support all of us local farms and buy from a local farmer and help us be sustained in your communities.”