People in Schoharie County can’t change the economics that cause dairy farmers to earn 98 cents a gallon for milk that costs $1.54 a gallon for them to make.
But they can support some of their farming neighbors who are struggling to stay in business during the recession.
Schoharie County is making it easier for people to help boost demand for milk — a $21 million industry there — with a new milk-friendly vending machine situated at the County Building on Main Street.
The milk containers inside the machine are filled by the H.P. Hood Co. with fluid milk from Schoharie County farms. Other beverages, like orange juice and bottled water, are available, too.
Several officials gathered at the county building to unveil the new machine Monday, but it was clear the vending machine was installed a couple weeks ago: The chocolate and white milk were all gone, and a couple rows of strawberry milk remained.
Guests to the county building — which houses offices for the county clerk and DMV, the health department, courts, treasurer and others — number in the hundreds every day, county planning director Alicia Terry said.
These potential milk-drinkers add to the roughly 280 employees who work there, said Terry, who grew up on a dairy farm and continues to raise Jersey cows.
A display set up in the hallway asks people to contact their state and federal legislators and urge them cut the cost of doing business in New York and reject foreign imports that compete with local products.
At the county level, there’s little that can be done to impact the volatile milk price situation that’s putting local farms at risk, Terry said.
“What we can do is we can keep trying to highlight the issue and making sure it’s on the front burner.” Nearly one quarter of Schoharie County’s land mass is made up of farmland that generated more than $35 million in sales in 2007, according to government statistics. Sixty-percent of that comes from dairy products.
Esperance Supervisor Earl Van Wormer, who grew up on a dairy farm, said the county is testing the first machine to see if it gets used enough, and another one could be placed at the county Annex Building.
“As you can see, it’s almost empty now,” he said.
Van Wormer said dairy farms are responsible not only for a major economic impact but also for the scenic, rural environment they maintain.
“I don’t want to ever drive through Schoharie County without seeing dairy farms. That’s what makes Schoharie County, Schoharie County,” Van Wormer said.
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Categories: Schenectady County