NORWICH – The number of dairy farms in Chenango County is on the rise for the second consecutive year, which is good news in an area where agriculture remains the leading industry.
According to the Chenango Cornell Cooperative Extension, the number of dairy farms increased in from 213 in January, 2011 to 219 by the end of December. “It wasn’t a huge gain, but it’s a gain,” said Cooperative Extension Director Ken Smith. “If we look at the trend of dairy farms in Chenango County, it’s contrary to what we would expect. It went up last year and it’s going up again this year ... I’m hoping we’ll see another net gain by the end of the year.”
Although final data for this year won’t be available for several months, factors including an increased number of dairy farms taking advantage of new grazing techniques, an ability for small farmers to adapt to changing market demands, and an influx of Amish dairy farmers.
“There’s much more opportunity for small farmers now than there was 10 years ago,” said Smith, citing an ability of many small dairy farmers (keeping 30 to 40 cows) to better tailor to consumer demands and provide for increasing nich markets like milk from grass fed cows and other all natural dairy products. “One of the things that’s become evident in the past 10 or 15 years is that some of the small to medium size farms have been very resourceful to stay in business,” said Smith...