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St. Lawrence County

Changing Times: North Country Dairy Farmers Tell Their Stories

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Changing Times: North Country Dairy Farmers Tell Their Stories

By Julianne DeGuardi

While conducting this research on the history of the North Country dairy industry, I contacted Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), a local non-profit organization based in Canton, NY. TAUNY developed an exhibit in 2013 entitled Dairy Farm Workers in Northern New York, which consisted of several recorded and transcribed interviews with dairy farmers throughout St. Lawrence County and with some Hispanic migrant workers, as well as several photos of the farms that depict various aspects of farm life and work. In this particular post I will be referencing some of the interviews with the farmers to share their experiences and perspectives on the aforementioned changes within the North Country dairy industry over the last thirty years. I will be referencing the transcribed interviews with farmers from three different dairy farms in St. Lawrence County: Decker Farm, Adon Farm, and Andrews Farm.

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The Changing Nature of the North Country Dairy Industry

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The Changing Nature of the North Country Dairy Industry

By Julianne DeGuardi

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the dairy industry is an extremely lucrative component of New York State’s economy, especially in St. Lawrence County, which is the state’s second largest dairy producer. Within the last thirty years, however, the industry throughout the entire U.S. has undergone drastic changes that have reverberated throughout New York State in general and St. Lawrence Country in particular. In the late 1980s, New York began deregulating the dairy industry by eliminating New-Deal-era regulations that had protected local milk processors. Consequently the state has lost nearly two-thirds of its dairy farms since the 1980s and the ones that remain have expanded.  In this post I provide an overview of these changes, all of which provide the context for an upcoming post that will feature the voices of North Country dairy farmers.

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