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DEC regulation change may help small dairy farmers

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A change in the number of animals a farm can have before it has to comply with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation rules could help small farms expand.

A state Department of Environmental Conservation rule change that takes effect May 8 will increase from 199 to 299 the number of cows a farm may have before having to comply with CAFO rules.

Farms considered CAFOs must comply with stricter standards that can carry a significant cost.

“It involves coming up with particular plans,” said Steven Ammerman, public affairs manager at the state Farm Bureau. “It could mean structural changes to the farm. There are a lot of permitting requirements. Once a farm determines to cross that threshold, it can be quite costly.”

Mr. Ammerman said that with the rule change, farms with fewer than 299 cows that were previously considered CAFOs will no longer carry that designation.

DEC spokesman Stephen W. Litwhiler said there are two farms in St. Lawrence County, four in Lewis County and five in Jefferson County that will no longer be considered CAFOs under the rule change.

Mr. Ammerman said the new regulations could spur growth in the region for farms that have wanted to increase their herds but could not afford to comply with the previous CAFO rules.

He did not have an estimate for a how many farms the new rule could impact.

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