New York's dairies are under attack. It's been an awful couple of years for the dairy industry--milk sales are down, output is up, and there's a huge glut of milk on the market creating the low milk prices that are driving farms out of business. With the recent announcement that Walmart's supplier is canceling contracts with local farms and processors in order to open its own mega-processing facility in Indiana to bottle 100 million gallons of milk per year, things have gotten dire.
Catskill Mountainkeeper supports the family farms that are the backbone of life in the Catskills and have provided milk to New York City for more than one hundred years. Statewide, our farms are part of our heritage and we will work to ensure they are a part of New York's future. Where and how we grow and purchase our food impacts our air and water quality, lifestyle, health, climate change emissions, and communities at large.
This is a local, state and national problem, and we need to do our part to solve it. We've been working with some of the foremost experts on this issue, and several things have become clear. We must make our voices heard:
- Call Governor Cuomo. Tell him to direct New York schools to buy New York's milk. (518) 474-8390
- Call Senator Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand sits on the Senate Agriculture committee. Tell her you support New York's farms, and that our farms can't survive without a floor price for their milk. (845) 875-4585
- Buy local. As we've spoken with farmers and experts in the field they've let us know that local markets and local demand for local products truly matters. If our communities were voting with our purchases, buying local first, big retailers would not have captured such a huge percentage of the market and would not have the power to force local businesses out of business. We can take the extra effort to buy local or regional products from local distributors or independent stores. We can skip the big box store and buy from our farmers. Find a farmers market near you. If you're in Liberty or Monticello, Catskill Mountainkeeper's farmers markets open this month. Click here to learn more.
The dairy crisis and the immediate danger of losing more New York State farms speaks to the problems of our agricultural system. Mega farms and processors are making decisions in corporate offices light years removed from the soil, the animals, the weather, and our communities. Consumers have become farther and farther separated from their basic needs and now we are seeing up close the real costs of how we produce our food. We can change this, and we're starting now.
We are calling on our elected officials to do everything in their power to ensure that the many farms in the Catskills and statewide are protected and supported until we have a solution. And we'll continue to spread the word and support our local markets.
Ramsay Adams, Executive Director