New York Sacrificing Water Quality for Yogurt

New rules proposed for NY's Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations may increase risks to water quality. Image via Wikipedia.

The New York DEC is considering changes to its large farm rule (CAFO – concentrated animal feeding operation) so that it no longer applies to farms with between 200 and 299 cows. With the proposed changes, farms of this size would no longer be required to develop plans that ensure they aren’t spreading too much manure and fertilizer on fields that don’t need it and would no longer be required to take certain steps that prevent runoff from farms. The proposed rule change would apply to approximately 13 farms in the Champlain Valley, most in Clinton County.

DEC has admitted in its filing that the proposed rule change will “result in impacts to fish and aquatic life,” and that there is “potential for adverse impacts to ground or surface waters as a result of this action.” The change would sacrifice water quality to encourage greater milk production.

The move is being made to encourage farmers to expand and supply more milk for yogurt producers in the state. Meanwhile, the price paid for milk remains near or below the price of production, and adding more milk to the market can only lower the price paid.

LCC has blasted the proposed rule change and urged DEC to reject it or at a minimum provide an alternative mandatory program to ensure medium-sized CAFOs continue to manage their environmental risk.