By Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management Specialist with the SWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program
Summer just wouldn’t be the same without dripping ice cream cones, melted cheese on hamburgers, and a nice cold glass of milk with dinner. Milk is plentiful in our area thanks to our region’s dairy farmers that work tirelessly to provide safe, high-quality, low-cost dairy products for our families to enjoy. We’re especially enjoying dairy this month as we celebrate “June is Dairy Month” across the country.
In the Southwest New York region (encompassing Steuben, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Erie Counties) there are over 680 dairy farms. Those farms care for 75,000 dairy cows that produce enough milk to provide three servings of dairy to 2 million people every day. This milk travels from farms to local facilities where it is bottled into milk for schools and stores, made into blocks and slices of cheese, and cultured for products like yogurt and buttermilk.
An average 100 cow dairy farm will need about 2.5 employees to make everything run smoothly, including both family partners and full or part time paid employees. However, these are just the people employed by that particular farm. There are many hands at work on a dairy farm, including the services of others like veterinarians, nutritionists, milk haulers, hoof trimmers, consultants, and many more. So, although that specific farm might only have 2.5 people on their payroll, the impact a single dairy farm has on the job market is valuable.
A single 100 cow dairy farm could have as much as a $2.78 million dollar economic effect in the region and create 29 direct and indirect jobs. It takes a lot of moving pieces to take a raw product like milk and turn it into goods we can purchase and enjoy. These moving pieces provide jobs, economic activity, and a supply chain whose utmost priority is safety and quality.
When it comes to the environment, dairy farms work as stewards to protect our rural landscape in a sustainable manner. Dairy farms must meet certain state and federal requirements for manure storage and handling by following detailed nutrient management plans. These efforts help to protect local waterways and conserve soil. Some dairy farms even have systems in place that use a methane digester to take waste and generate electricity that powers the farm and their surrounding community. Farms also use their cattle’s waste as a natural fertilizer to return critical nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil.
Let’s not forget about the end product – milk. Milk is a low-cost way to access high quality nutrition. One serving of milk contains 8 grams of protein along with calcium, vitamins A, B2 & B12, and D; potassium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, omega 3’s, and more. Drinking milk is associated with lower incidences of osteoporosis and age-related muscle loss, and increased physical performance.
This June we celebrate our community’s dairy farmers that care for cows, the environment, and provide healthy and safe products that we can all use to feed ourselves and our families! Support your local dairy farmer by choosing real milk at the grocery store, requesting an extra slice of cheese on your sandwich, and driving carefully behind tractors and other slow-moving vehicles this season.
For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension, contact your county’s Association Executive Director. Allegany County – Laura Hunsberger, firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-268-7644. Cattaraugus County – Dick Rivers, email@example.com or 716-699-2377. Chautauqua County – Emily Reynolds, firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-664-9502. Erie County – Diane Held, email@example.com or 716-652-5400. Steuben County – Tess McKinley, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 607-664-2301.