ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new initiative Monday intended to stop the wasteful dumping of milk by state dairy farmers who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. Due to supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, some farms and dairy cooperatives have been forced to dump milk before it can make it to market during the national health crisis.
At the same time, food banks in New York State are seeing increased demand for services.
Gov. Cuomo said the state is looking for ways to purchase excess milk from farms and then turn it into dairy products that can be distributed to food banks. He said the state is looking for cooperation with Chobani, Cabot Creamery, and Upstate Niagara Cooperative.
The news was well received by the New York State Farm Bureau.
“Governor Cuomo provided some much-needed good news for the state’s farmers and our partners looking to feed fellow New Yorkers in need,” NYFB President David Fisher said. “Our organization has been advocating for food purchase programs at the state and national levels to address the surging demand for food assistance as well as to help alleviate oversupply issues that are burdening our farms because of the loss of markets in the food service industry.”
Fisher also said that more needs to be done to support all New Yorkers.
“No farmer wants to dispose of the food they produce, but few farms can process and package their raw commodities, like milk, into products that can be purchased or donated to those in need,” he explained. “We know out of state products like apples and potatoes are being purchased rather than supporting our farmers here in the state who themselves have been impacted by COVID-19. Today’s announcement will provide an additional pathway to move more nutritious, New York produced food from our farms to the dinner table, which will benefit everyone involved…. The proposal is a win-win and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Feeding New York State, our dairy cooperatives and marketers, and state officials to help feed more New Yorkers who are struggling right now.”
According to the NYFB, last year alone New York’s farmers donated more than seven million pounds of food to regional food banks across the state through the Harvest for All program.