Local dairy farms enjoy resurgence

Feb 4, 2014

New York's dairy industry continues to surge and now ranks as the third-largest producer of milk in the entire country.

In a variation on a dairy slogan, the question ought to be: Got yogurt?

That's a big part of the surge in milk production in New York, up more than two percent last year while the entire country only rose four-tenths of a percent.

Upstate Milk.
Credit WBFO News photos by Eileen Buckley

Individual cows are also producing more, up more than 10 percent from 2009 to 2013.

"It's a very technical and technology-driven industry now," said Dean Norton, whose family operates a 900-cow dairy farm in Elba.

"If we want to be the low-cost producer, we need to be efficient and the best way to be efficient is to use the up-to-date technology, whether it be GPS technology for planting crops or technology whereby we keep track of our animals' movement (for health reasons)."

Norton also serves as president of the New York Farm Bureau.
Every day one of those refrigerated tractor-trailers hauls 7,000 gallons of milk away from Norton's family farm. Milking goes on around-the-clock and each cow goes through 100 pounds of feed and nearly 70 gallons of water.

Besides the milk, they also produce a lot of manure. New digesting tanks transform the waste  to produce electricity and gas for heating.