The national craze for Greek yogurt presents an opportunity for New York dairy farmers to expand operations to take advantage of the growing market.
New York now produces about 70 percent of the nations Greek yogurt. Two of the top brands operate plants in the state with two other producers planning to open plants in the next year.
A University of Wisconsin study has predicted that New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania farmers will have to increase production by 170 million to 335 million pounds of milk per month to keep up with the pace of growth.
New York farmers would have to boost production by 15 percent. Otherwise, yogurt producers will have to bring in milk from out-of-state or build their plants somewhere else. New York has to implement measures to maintain its leadership in the industry.
Toward that goal, industry officials and farmers last week held a yogurt summit to discuss ways for the state to capitalize on the boom.
To encourage farmers to increase their herds, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomos administration has proposed allowing farmers to add up to 300 head instead of 200 without complying with environmental regulations that could cost between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. But the change to the concentrated Animal Feeding Operation would have limited impact.
Bruce W. Krupke, vice president of the Northeast Dairy Foods Association, said the governors plan would benefit about a fifth of the states 3,600 dairy farmers.
It is welcoming to see that Gov. Cuomo understands the impact environmental regulations have on the dairy industry with his willingness to adjust the rules.
However, he has to tweak the regulations so all farmers, large and small operations, can benefit.