Dairy dossier: Tax breaks for working girls, the low price of NY milk, and Chobani's dangerous plant
3/15/12 - 3:53 pm
Born to depreciate. Photo by Flickr user Benjamin Golub; published under Creative Commons license.
Q: How is a milk cow like a fax machine?
A: She can be written off as a business expense. And under a new federal law proposed by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, more of New York State's roughly 600,000 working dairy cows would get deducted annually from the farm bottom line as "capital expenses."
The bill, which Schumer plans to introduce, is aimed at helping not just dairy farmers, but several New York State Greek yogurt manufacturers that have been growing rapidly over the past several years, and showing an insatiable appetite for New York State milk.
Currently, the only time a cow can be written off as a capital expense is when she's just getting started in her dairy career. Once she's already producing milk, even if she changes hands, the buyer cannot write her off as a business expense. (That's a difference between cows and fax machines: A business can buy a used fax machine and deduct it as a "capital expense" on the company's taxes.)
Schumer's legislation, the Dairy Augmentation for Increased Retail in Yogurt Products Act (which almost works out to the acronym DAIRY), aims to change that. A press release on Wednesday, March 14 from Schumer's office has a detailed description of how the bill would work. Here's an excerpt:
For 2012, dairy farm operators can immediately deduct 50 cents of every dollar spent on qualifying livestock purchases, which include the purchase of any ‘new’ dairy cow not previously used for a business purpose. However, dairy cows purchased from another herd do not qualify for this generous tax benefit. Schumer’s legislation would expand the definition of qualifying livestock eligible for 50 percent bonus depreciation this year to include all dairy cows purchased by a dairy farm operator for business use, regardless of whether the dairy cow’s original use had commenced with another taxpayer.
The bill would also establish tax-deferred savings accounts for dairy farmers, to help them keep their finances stable in a wildly fluctuating market.
Milk demand high, but price hardly budges
While yogurt companies like Fage and Chobani have shown a bottomless appetite for local milk, the laws of supply and demand don't work neatly on the complicated business of commodity milk pricing. A recent investigation by WBNG found that despite soaring demand for New York State milk, local farmers aren't seeing better prices for their milk:
...the net price of milk in New York is lower than the national average and lower than that of neighboring states.
"Now that we've exhausted our milk supply in New York State, we've gone in to Pennsylvania and surrounding states," said Kelly LaCorte, spokesperson for Chobani, who spoke with Action News at a recent event in Binghamton.
Data from the USDA puts New York's milk price at nearly $1.00 below that for Eastern PA, and $1.40 for states in New England. "You would think they would want to pay more money for local milk and have the better quality," [Sherburne farmer Josh] Lathrop said.
Crackdown on safety problems at Chobani
In other yogurty news: Agro Farma, the company that makes Chobani yogurt, may need to slow down its rampant growth for a while and focus on plant safety. The company faces $178,000 in federal fines for health and safety violations at its plant in New Berlin, the Daily Star reports today:
"Our inspections identified a wide range of mechanical, chemical, electrical and health hazards that, left uncorrected, expose the plant's employees to being caught in moving machine parts or unexpectedly energized machinery, electrocution, falls, being overcome in toxic or oxygen-deficient atmospheres and hearing loss," [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] Area Director Christopher Adams said in a statement.
|A Catskills forest dweller – the Rosy Maple Moth – Pretty in Pink!|
|Dicentra part II (Two Catskills wildflowers)|
|Dicentra Part I (Bleeding Hearts, or why do plant names change?)|
|A TASTE OF ANEMONE|
|DAFFODIL VS NARCISSUS|
|Frost Warnings... Really?!|
|Spring Redecorating in the Henhouse|
|Spring Slinking in Slowly|
|Free anniversary tastings starting Friday, May 22 at 5pm!|
|Memorial Day and One Year Anniversary Tasting Events!|
|Log Home at Silver Lake|
|A Living Heritage|
|See the Tinderbox's Grills In Action - Memorial Day Weekend|
|Lightweight, Portable Stoves for Campers and Backpackers|
|Memorial Day Weekend - Celebrate Ten Years of Tay Tea!|
|It's Time for Cold-Brew Iced Tea!|
|Celebrate Mother’s Day with Tay Tea!|
|Save the Dates! Tay Tea Spring Events|
|Fiber Arts Weekend at Heather Ridge Farm|
|Sunday May 24 BBQ, Fresh Chicken, New Summer Hours|
|Supper Club this Saturday, May 16|
|Art in the Catskills This Memorial Day Weekend|
|Orquesta SCC Kicks of Summer Season at the Roxbury Arts Group|
|Roxbury Welcomes You This Memorial Day Weekend|
|I Love My Park Day at Roxbury's Kirkside Park|
|Swap Your Seeds!|
|How Do You Celebrate Spring?|
|Dreamy new landmark townhouse vacation rental in happening Hudson|
|Celebrating 'All Things Local' this week with Nicole Day Gray / All Things Hive321 with Theresa Spinelli|
|Celebrating 'All Things Local' this week with Nicole Day Gray / All Things Catskills Grit with Michael Wentland|
|Myth America, Tuesdays at 9 AM on WIOX Radio|
|Thanks to NYNJTC and Upstate Adventure Guides for a Great Year of Trail U at Spillian!|
|Keeping Life Simple - Beautiful Bovina Farmhouse, 2 Ponds & 16+/- acres.|
|Rondout Creek Lodge: Sunny, streamfront home with great room and 2 fireplaces on 53 acres near waterfalls and Blue Hole|
|Spa Treatments for a Cause at the Emerson Resort & Spa|
|Last Minute Savings at the Emerson Spa|
|JOHN VANDERLYN IN VIRGINIA AND WASHINGTON, D.C.|
|Take Mom to the Andes Hotel on Sunday!|
|Oneonta Remodeling Sale Going On At All Catalog Outlet Locations!|
|GCSWCD EDUCATION AND OUTREACH COORDINATOR|
|Raffle for Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department|
|Andes Central School Spring Picture Day|
|New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Is Hiring: Program Coordinator (Catskill)|