New York Rolling Back Environmental Regs For Dairy Expansion

Governor Cuomo expects regulatory revisions, effective May 8, will encourage smaller dairies to expand while New York's waters remain protected.

Published on: Apr 25, 2013

It's no secret that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to keep the Empire State's growing yogurt industry growing – and adding jobs. One of the barriers to that economic growth has been a limited supply of local milk, due to processor competition and the regulatory costs of expanding dairies.

The key issue, according to American Agriculturist 's February Profit Planner panel, is that dairy farmers, too, must see long-term profitability to justify expansion. For more details, click here.

That's why, last week, the governor revealed changes to the state's environmental permitting program requirements to reduce the regulatory burden. The changes affecting smaller dairies become effective on May 8. Here's a skinnied-down look at key changes:

New York Rolling Back Environmental Regs For Dairy Expansion
New York Rolling Back Environmental Regs For Dairy Expansion

AFO farms get a bigger pass
Now, Animal Feeding Operations (as defined by the Clean Water Act) with less than less 200 mature milking and dry cows can grow to 299 cows without being subject to concentrated animal feeding operation regulations. That is, unless they have a point-source pollution discharge, as defined by the state's Department of Environmental Conservation. In that case, such farms would be designated as small CAFOs and still subject to the Clean Water Act.

Based on USDA's 2007 Census of Agriculture, there are 872 smaller farms in New York State with between 100 and 199 cows. Under the new regulations, smaller farms can expand herd sizes into the 200 to 299 range without having to immediately implement costly controls, according to DEC.

Medium and large CAFOs get a break
Medium and large dairy permitted CAFOs will also be exempted from most registration or permitting requirements under the solid waste program for land application of food processing waste, storage of food processing waste with manure or anaerobic digestion of many organic wastes. That brings these CAFOs under just one set of regulations, not two.

These regulations will become effective on June 17. The newly revised regulations can be found on DEC's website.

Additional financial support
The state, according to the Governors Office, is committing $14.2 million in 2014 for farms to implement practices to improve water quality and conserve topsoil, plus up $1 million more in additional funding to develop or improve Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans for dairy farmers, including design of best management practices on farms;

Some $450,000 is targeted to the Dairy Acceleration Program to provide business assistance to farmers looking to expand their operations. Through the program, farmers will be able to enlist expertise from the Cornell Cooperative Extension network and other ag programs to facilitate and grow their business and increase farm milk production.

Another $822,000 is targeted to continue the PRO-DAIRY program, and develop nutrient management plans.