ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to do something about milk dumping.
Many farmers have had to dump their milk because the coronavirus outbreak shut down places that used it, such as schools and restaurants.
“This is just a total waste to me,” he said at his coronavirus briefing Monday. “We have people downstate who need food and farmers upstate who can’t sell their product.”
Cuomo said the COVID-19 crisis -- which has put many people out of work -- increasing demand on food banks from 40 to 60 percent upstate, 40 percent on Long Island, 100 percent in New York City, and 200 percent in Westchester County, the site of the state’s first outbreak.
“We need to make that marriage between product upstate and need downstate.”
To do that, Governor Cuomo announced the Nourish New York initiative.
It’s a plan where the state will buy $25 million worth of fluid milk and dairy products, like cheese, sour cream and yogurt, and send them to food pantries around New York.
The companies and groups involved include Cabot Cheese, Chobani Yogurt, Upstate Niagara and Dairy Farmers of America - all names local farmers know.
"About half of our dairy farms in Jefferson County are members of Dairy Farmers of America. We have a manufacturer in St. Lawrence County that belongs to Upstate Niagara. Chobani sometimes gets Jefferson County milk and Cabot Cheese sometimes gets Jefferson County milk," said county Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson.
Dairy farmers have been dumping milk because the market is weak due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Matteson says this $25 million shot in the arm will help north country farmers, but it won’t solve the crisis they are up against. Agriculture is northern New York’s number 1 private industry.