Meeting yogurt demand: New York to hold CAFO hearings

Gearing up to meet growing milk demand to feed the state’s expanding yogurt industry, New York will hold four public hearings, Jan. 4, regarding proposed changes to the state’s concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) threshold. All hearings begin at 2 p.m., in Albany, Syracuse, Ray Brook and Avon, N.Y. (For specific locations, click here.)

The proposed changes would allow dairies to grow to 299 cows without facing some costly and extensive environmental permits. The New York Farm Bureau estimated there are 800 dairy farms with 100-199 cows that could benefit from CAFO reforms and expand milk production. If just 10% of those farms add 100 cows to their herd, milk production would grow by more than 160 million lbs. of milk per year. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a “yogurt summit” last August to explore ideas from industry leaders, dairy producers and others to help ensure the state’s yogurt industry has the resources to grow. At the summit, Cuomo announced the state would take action to help dairy producers increase the size of their herds and boost milk production.

Since 2000, the number of New York yogurt processing plants increased from 14 to 29. They doubled production between 2005 to 2011, increasing annual milk use from 158 million lbs. to about 1.2 billion lbs. Most of the increase is due to the introduction and production of Greek style yogurt, which requires three times more milk than traditional yogurt. By some estimates, milk production will have to grow another 15% to meet future demand.

The public comment period ends Jan. 21. For additional information on the hearing and proposals, visit

Additional information is also available from the New York Farm Bureau at, and from Robert Simson, NYS DEC - Division of Water, phone: 518-402-8271.