Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently made $1 million in funding available to help dairy farmers develop individualized business and environmental plans. Eligibility preference will be given to farms with less than 300 cows, which represents the majority of dairy farms in Chautauqua County.
"The Dairy Acceleration Program is designed to help farmers strategically plan for production growth and take into consideration the environmental planning that is required to do that," said Caroline Potter, Cornell University CALS dairy coordinator. "Whether or not farms want to grow, this gives farms the opportunity to work with experts in business planning and environmental planning."
For eligible farms, Dairy Acceleration Program funding will cover 80 percent of an approved project's cost. Payments may include: up to $5,000 per farm to write a business plan or develop a combination of a business and facility growth plan, and up to $4,500 to update an existing comprehensive nutrient management plan or $6,000 to develop a new one.
"In Chautauqua County, we have various small dairies," said Ginny Carlberg of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Program. "The average is about 120 cows, so a lot of our farms would qualify for this program, and a lot of them are likely ready to look at different options for their farm. If these farms are considering adding on some cows, starting a new project or even simply revising their facilities for greater efficiency, quite a few farms in the area would be good candidates for this program."
"We have farms that need to bring in the next generation, and the Dairy Acceleration Program may assist them in that transition, as handing down a farm takes a lot of business planning," said Lisa Kempisty of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Agriculture Program. "A revamped comprehensive nutrient management plan could provide an opportunity for the next generation to come into the farm business, but it could also help to grow cow numbers and acreage."
Business planning includes financial analysis, farmstead development planning, facility planning and capital investment planning for increased milk production per cow. Environmental planning includes comprehensive nutrient management plan development and updates. Farms without an existing comprehensive nutrient management plan can hire a certified nutrient management planner to develop a new comprehensive nutrient management plan for farms with under 300 cows. The comprehensive nutrient management plan encompasses the storage and handling of the manure as well as the utilization and application of the manure nutrients on the land.
"Dairy farms are very complex businesses that need to consider planning for the future - for potential growth, increases in efficiencies and bringing the next generation into the farm business," Carlberg said.
Even though preference will be given to farms with less than 300 cows, all dairy farms are welcome to apply for the Dairy Acceleration Program funding, and Carlberg and Kempisty are willing to assist with the application process and to answer questions about the program. Carlberg and Kempisty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively, or by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County at 664-9502.
To apply for the Dairy Acceleration Program from home, visit ansci.cornell.edu/prodairy/dairy_acceleration/.