Measure continues Senate efforts to address dairyís challenges
Monday, June 18, 2007
Albany, N.Y.-- The New York State Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira), chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, to establish a "Dairy Farm Improved Energy Efficiency Loan Fund" to provide state grants and low-interest loans to assist dairy farmers undertake energy efficiency projects and obtain advanced energy technologies.
The new loan fund would be established and administered within the stateís lead economic development agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, in conjunction with the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority. The legislation is sponsored by Assemblyman Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Watertown).
"New York State must continue to extend a helping hand to our dairy farmers," said Winner. "The high cost of energy is one of a dairy farmerís heaviest burdens. This program could help farmers improve the energy efficiency of their operations, or take advantage of new technology. It would be another wise investment in the future of upstate dairy farms, businesses and communities."
Winner joined his Senate colleagues earlier this year to propose and secure $30 million in immediate financial assistance to New Yorkís dairy farmers in the 2007-08 state budget. That measure, known as the Dairy Investment Act, was signed into law in early April. As a result, approximately 5,000 producers have received state payments averaging $5,156. Winner noted that state officials believe there are producers who have still not filed applications to receive assistance and the state Department of will continue to accept applications until Monday, July 9, 2007.
Extremely low commodity prices have combined with high energy and feed costs, labor shortages and flooding to create a "perfect storm" scenario that has had a devastating economic impact on many milk producers. In addition, low milk prices, an outdated price control system administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the escalating cost of running a family farm have resulted in unprecedented losses for dairy farms statewide.
Due to their remote locations at the end of electric grid infrastructure, farms are more difficult to service by electric utilities. Strengthening the energy systems of individual farms and developing micro-grids in remote areas will enhance the overall reliability of the electric system.
Winner said that his legislation to provide state assistance to help more dairy farmers utilize high efficiency lighting, high efficiency pumping and cooling equipment, and other energy management systems could result in significant energy savings and increased milk yields. It would also help accelerate the development of the energy services industry in New York, providing new and expanded job opportunities.
The legislation must be approved by the Assembly and signed by Governor Eliot Spitzer before becoming law. It is currently in the Assembly Agriculture Committee.