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New Dairy Bill Capitalizes on Income Potential From Greek Yogurt

dairy cows

New York Senator Charles Schumer has introduced legislation to strengthen the state’s dairy industry by capitalizing on the demand for yogurt products.

New York’s senior U.S. Senator is introducing the Dairy Augmentation for Increased Retail in Yogurt Products Act.  The bill creates tax-preferenced savings accounts that allow deposits during high-income cycles that are held until low-income periods.  Tax liability would be deferred and would be a marginal rate upon withdrawal.

New York Farm Bureau Spokesman Steve Ammerman says this is a risk-management program and is an item the group has been advocating for a while.

Schumer’s savings proposal is spurred by the growth of the Greek yogurt industry.  According to the New York Farm Bureau, in 2010, New York produced 370 million pounds of yogurt. In 2011 yogurt production had grown to 500 million pounds.  Overall, raw milk production in 2010 was 12 billion pounds. Senator Schumer’s office estimates that New York farmers will have to produce more than one-point-eight billion additional pounds of milk to meet demand.

Northeast Dairy Farmers’ Cooperatives Senior Dairy Policy Advisor Bob Gray says increasing production across the northeast will be a challenge.

Gray says Schumer’s plan for tax deferred savings accounts is sound, but won’t work for all dairy farmers even with the increased demand.

New York state is looking into participating in a pilot program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to boost the dairy industry.  The federal agency wants to test the cost-effectiveness of serving Greek yogurt in school meal programs.

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