Dairy Farm Distress
PINE CITY, N.Y.(WENY)-- Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy this week, citing Americans drinking less cow milk as a reason for their financial struggles. Because of this, WENY News reached out to Watts Farms, a local family farm, to find out if a trickle down effect is being felt by them or any of their local friends in the farming industry.
"We are affected in the fact that we have to stay small just because we do work off the farm, but we have friends and family that are affected. We're lucky enough, farmers in Chemung County, they're more like a family, they help each other out and we are seeing people go out of business and it is sad, but the best thing you can do is rally around with each other. Everyone is struggling, it's not just one person," says Nikole Watts, Employee at Watts Farms.
Dean Foods, a California-based company, operations do not typically affect Southern Tier Farmers but, if a company in New York started facing similar problems, Watts and other farms would be hurting worse than they are.
"New York State is the fourth state in the country in dairy, that's huge so we do make up a pretty percentage of the dairy industry and if New York and Wisconsin and California go down,our economy will be in trouble," Watts tells WENY News.
Watts went on to tell WENY News that locals can help support their local farmers and the industry by taking the time to talk to a farmer and learn about what they are doing and why.
"Get educated, talk to your farmers, they are willing to have a conversation with you. Buy local, support your local guys that are in business. Support the dairy industry and a whole. Farmers, if there were not farmers, people wouldn't have clothes, they'd be hungry," says Watts.
And her biggest message to the community is that remembering that when sales drop, it does not just effect one person.
"It's not just a farm, it's a generation, it's more than an eight to five job, this is a way of people lives. And so to see them go out, it is hard, but they are creative and they will stay in business as long as they can," says Watts.
Watts told WENY News that if you are interesting in learning more about farming and agriculture, to reach out to your local farmers, they are always willing to help inform the public.