New York Senator Charles E. Schumer has announced a plan to authorize a pilot program for a dairy block grant program that he says would aim to boost dairy farm profitability and efficiency, particularly on smaller farms. Schumer will offer the concept as an amendment to the Farm Bill that is now being considered on the House floor, after being passed in May by both the House and Senate ag committees.

Schumer is pushing for this dairy block grant concept to be tested in a $5 million pilot that would be similar to the specialty crops grant program. It would help dairy farmers to access technical expertise related to productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship.

If created, the pilot program would allow states to submit a USDA application to receive funding that could then provide technical assistance to individual dairy farmers. This program could allow farmers to bring in animal nutritionists, breeding specialists, small business experts, or nutrient management consultants to aid in efforts to meet EPA requirements.

The program could be especially useful to smaller dairy farmers who don’t have the resources to independently hire outside consultants for these needs.

Schumer said this pilot program would be a great fit for New York, in particular, by making the state's dairy farms more productive and more profitable to meet the increase in demand due to the popularity of Greek yogurt.


New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton, whose family owns a fifth-generation dairy farm in western New York, has spoken in favor of the idea. (Click here to read more about Dean Norton.)

“The Dairy Block Grants would serve an important need in New York as the state’s dairy farmers are looking for targeted ways to increase both profitability and environmental stewardship. Helping the effective state programs that are already in place expand their outreach would provide greater access to this valuable expertise." PD

—Compiled from various sources