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Earth Day 2024: NY dairy farms are committed to protecting the planet

World 22.04.2024
Source: The DairyNews
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Central New York was chosen to host the North American Manure Expo in July 2024. What does that have to do with the Finger Lakes? Everything. Our farmers were identified as industry leaders in sustainability. It is a testament to the environmental stewardship efforts implemented on farms across our region and state.
Earth Day 2024: NY dairy farms are committed to protecting the planet
Jon Patterson
Jon Patterson
Owner of Patterson Farms in Cayuga County and director of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association.
Family dairy farms use science-based best management practices to apply nutrients in the form of cow manure in the fields. Farmers are constantly working in partnership with the New York state Department of Ag & Markets, Department of Environment Conservation and Department of Health, along with industry experts at local soil and water districts and in academia, to stay on top of data-driven farming techniques and regulations to protect our natural resources. We only get one planet. Farmers understand that and have been working for generations to care for our environment and leave it in better condition for the next generation.

Since the 1830s, our farm has been cultivating the land in Central New York. Today, we milk 1,800 cows and crop 2,600 acres in Cayuga County. That includes planting with minimal ground disturbance and applying nutrients according to our annual comprehensive nutrient management plan. These plans are developed by state certified Agriculture Environmental Management planners who study the climate, crop rotations, and soil and water samples that inform us when and how to apply nutrients in our specific fields.

In addition, dairy farms with 300 cows or more are regulated by the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit. This permit is developed in partnership by DEC, Ag & Markets, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Cornell University, which is the designated Land Grant University for New York state. Farms are required to submit annual reports in compliance with their CAFO permit — data tracking that helps guide farmers’ efforts to protect our natural resources. In fact, our Environmental Conservation Law CAFO permit is one of the most rigorous in the country.

As a Northeast Dairy Producers Association director, I participate in advocacy efforts at the state Capitol and locally. By hosting farm tours for legislators, meeting face-to-face in Albany, and speaking with elected officials in the district, we help inform policymaking to ensure New York’s farms and food supply remain strong to continue feeding families across the state.

Ongoing support fr om Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature are critical to the success of New York’s dairy farms. Funding for Cornell PRO-DAIRY supports on-farm research and the development of new technologies that can be practically applied to enhance management practices on farms. These innovations support efforts to reduce emissions, protect water quality and improve soil health. Additionally, New York continues to take steps toward meeting the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, including investing in Cornell’s Dairy Climate Leadership Specialist position, which is dedicated to supporting farms’ efforts and ability to be part of the solution to reducing emissions. Additionally, research by Cornell’s Nutrient Management Spear Program allows farmers to measure success and focus on continuous improvement.

The number of acres of cropland statewide in 2022 on which no-till practices were used increased nearly 25% from 2017, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture. No-till is a practice wh ere farmers plant seeds with minimal soil disturbance, helping the ground retain carbon and nutrients. The census also found the number of acres of cover crops across the state increased by nearly 13% over the last five years. Cover crops help fortify soil integrity and prevent runoff — a critical strategy to preserve our watersheds. These numbers clearly illustrate the dedication farmers have as stewards of the land.

Additionally, carbon emissions from U.S. agriculture fell in 2022 to the lowest level since 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest emissions report. The report found that agriculture emissions accounted for 9.4% of all U.S. carbon emissions in 2022. In New York, agriculture accounts for only 6% of emissions, according to NYSDEC. When decision-makers, researchers, and industry experts work together toward common goals, the results are clear: our farmers remain innovative and resilient, while our land and herds remain productive.

Hosting an international Manure Expo right here in our own backyard shows the dedication, experience, and accomplishments of dairy industry professionals, regulatory agencies, and most importantly, our family dairy farms. By highlighting nutrient management techniques that are evidence-based and backed by research, more consumers and state leaders will better understand the good work of our farms. From the milking parlor to the barn, to the fields of cover crops — every decision is informed by data and implemented with our environment’s best interests in mind.

We are only as successful as our resources are healthy and plentiful. And we remain committed to our roots, as the original stewards of the land.

Torsten Hemme, Founder & Chairman, Dairy expert
Torsten Hemme, Founder & Chairman, Dairy expert
Rebecca Marquez
Rebecca Marquez
Director of Custom Research at PMMI
Private-label products, sometimes known as private brands or store brands, have enjoyed steady growth since even before the COVID-19 pandemic. And dollar sales continue to grow. In 2023, total dollar sales rose 6%, while units sold grew 0.9% compared to the prior year. Often presented as the lower-cost option, high inflation has helped the private-label market, which is valued at more than $217 billion, according to a report from Chicago-based market research firm Circana.