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Cuomo’s distorted view of the dairy industry

January 27, 2016

“We began in 2011 with our partnership to stimulate dairy production through our Greek yogurt industry expansion and it has worked.... our dairy industry is booming because the yogurt companies are consuming all the milk we’re producing. It has been a great victory and an important lesson, and besides having some cows suffering sore udders, it has been a great, great success.”

So said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2016 State of the State address.

But a brief fact check suggests that nothing is further from the truth. “Our dairy industry is booming”? Hardly. Since peaking in the $25 per cwt. range in 2014, New York dairy farmers have seen milk prices received plummet to the current $15/cwt. range, a drop of some 40%.

Yogurt production peaked in New York State in November of 2013 and has shown significant declines since. U.S. Greek yogurt pioneer Chobani got its start in an ancient former J.L. Kraft plant in South Edmeston, NY, on its way to becoming the leading U.S. producer of Greek yogurt. Chobani has since built a new yogurt plant in Twin Falls, ID. When the new facility came on line in 2012, the result was a substantial drawdown of production (40% by some estimates) at the New York plant. This led to numerous job losses and seriously reduced the plant intake of milk. Starting in May of 2014, this reduction forced Chobani’s milk supplier, Dairy Marketing Services, to dump 100-200 tractor trailer loads of redundant milk per month, with the losses deducted from farmers’ milk checks.