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Western New York dairy farms dealing with climbing milk prices amid inflation

Hoover's Dairy Farm
Posted at 11:55 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 00:04:36-04

SANBORN, N.Y. (WKBW) — High gas prices are just one of the ways current inflation rates are hitting the nation.

Because of the high price of gas, the cost of many other goods is also going up, including milk and dairy products that many may be buying.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average price for a gallon of milk has jumped sharply around the country and here in New York State.

As of May, the national average cost of a gallon of 2% is $4.28. This is up 50 cents from the beginning of the year.

New York has seen similar jumps in both downstate and in central New York.

A popular Western New York dairy producer also said their bottom line is taking a slight hit.

Right here at the dairy, we're a $1.30/quart and that's in a glass bottle. Our chocolate or flavored milks are $2.35/quart," Hoover's Dairy co-owner, Robert Hoover, II said.

If you do the math, that is $5.20/gallon for whole milk, $5/gallon for 2% milk, $5/gallon for skim milk and $9.40/gallon for flavored milk.

Additionally, fuel and fertilizer prices have doubled from last year, for farms like Hoover's Dairy.

"It's affected us, just getting some different supplies and equipment. When you see you're getting low on things. Normal things you're able to get in a week's notice, sometimes may take a couple of months. And just the shipping costs have gone up. Fuel costs of course have gone up quite a bit," Hoover said.

This includes items that are not even crop-related like, detergents, gaskets, and different pieces of diary equipment.

Co-owner, Robert Hoover, II explained that fuel is essential to running a farm because tractors and other machines run all day.

"Fall, I think we'll have a better picture of where costs are going to go, hopefully," he anticipated.

Longtime customers like Town of Lewiston resident, Sandra Harris, said regardless of price, she will still keep coming to Hoover's family-owned farm.

"Milk and groceries. Just since the virus, it seems like everything has doubled or has been more, but when I come here I don't really want to pay attention to the price because I know it's good," she said. "My bread, milk and stuff-- I'll come here and get it. I just like the family business. They're all so helpful. They're a wonderful family. I've known them for forever."

She said she will drive eight miles to Hoover's over the two miles towards her nearest grocery store.

Harris said, "I don't like the flavor of grocery store milk, well say. Tops, Wegman's, whatever. It seems too watered down. Since I've been coming here, this is the only milk my kids will drink. Now, they're all adults and as you can see I buy tons of milk and everybody gets a milk this afternoon."

While prices are a focal point, Hoover adds that the crop season has also been wet which has lead to a late season for crops being planted.
The farm is about one month late in getting hay crop.

"It's been different just with fuel costs and extremely high compared to other years. We're probably about three weeks just in here, in Niagara county getting hay off. That's what we're sort of working on now," Hoover said.

While this does not relate to sales, Hoover also warned about farmer safety on the road. He explained that there have been some road safety concerns from the farming community across the state.

"Farmers are on the road and just be very cautious around farm equipment because it's a lot of peoples' livelihood. We want to get to the field and get our crops off or whatever we're doing and get back to our families. I know the equipment big and we hate holding people up but we're trying to do our job too and we just want to keep everyone safe because there's been a lot of close calls this year. Everybody's in a hurry," he added.