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WNY dairy farmers are still in crisis: ask Congress for help

Dairy farmers warn many farms are on the verge of closing
Posted at 6:40 PM, Mar 20, 2019

CATTARAUGUS COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Even though the price of milk is up slightly this year, Western New York dairy farmers are still losing money because it costs more to produce milk than they can sell it for.

Dustin Bliss, a Cattaraugus County dairy farmer with 500 cows, said milk is selling for $16/hundredweight (100 pounds of milk) but it costs him $17 to produce that amount - meaning he loses money every day.

The situation is so stressful for dairy farmers that agriculture organizations, like NY FarmNet, worry about an increase in farmer suicides.

"I've talked to several who are not sure if they are going to be in business a year from now," said Richard Rivers, Executive Director for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cattaraugus County.

Farmers say they need access to markets in Canada and Mexico, something that is supposed to happen with the new, but not yet ratified, trade deal called USMCA.

In addition, farmers say the current immigration controversy in Washington could scare away vital migrant farm workers which would hurt many farms financially.

In an effort to get their message to Congress, the NY Farm Bureau invited Republican Congressman Tom Reed to visit Dustin Bliss's farm to hear concerns from the farming community.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly was there for the meeting and filed the attached report.