Appalachian Basin

Dairy Farmer Demands Natural Gas Decision From Governor Cuomo

Lisa Robinson is a dairy farmer in Steuben County, NY who has watched Pennsylvanians prosper just across the border from her farm. Meanwhile, New York taxes and unemployment are on the rise, the price of milk paid to the farmer is falling, and landowners still await a decision on natural gas development in the state.

I recently wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo expressing my frustrations over the continued delay on natural gas development in New York. The nearly five years of delay have been long and frustrating, especially in the dairy community, and it’s time we got some answers from our state’s administration. Here is the letter I sent demanding they decide one way or another what our future will hold:

It has been almost a year since I had a lengthy conversation with one of your staff members regarding dairy farming and land owner rights and I still do not see any progress in the Southern Tier.  Our taxes are the highest in the country and the unemployment rate is higher than the national average.  Yes, you are trying to make provisions for dairy farmers through the yogurt world, but it is not going to have much effect on the small family farms that occupy your state with milk pricing being determined at the federal level. The policies being proposed in Washington would put just about every small dairy farmer out of business.

While you and your constituents want dairy farmers to grow by 15 percent, Washington wants to pass policies that would penalize farmers if they overproduce based on a history of milk production on their farms.  And, the second federal policy, if passed, would leave dairy farmers at a loss because it will open the market up to more manipulation of the CME because of profit margins set by processors and manufacturers.

A dairy farm in upstate New York: Photo by Anita Gould

Another problem is the degradation of our mineral rights. My family has 465 acres that are still under hefty mortgage and with the highest taxes in the country, you can only imagine the amount of money the state has generated just on our property alone.  We have a means to use a natural resource under our feet, but because of an almost five year delay from the state of New York, our family cannot use this resource to benefit our family, town, county, state and country.

Yes, I am talking about natural gas development.

We live three miles from the Pennsylvania border and have plenty of landowner friends who have seen the benefits of natural gas development. They have been able to pull their livelihoods back together.  Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have been done in this state for years, and with neighboring states prospering it has taken its toll on the Southern Tier.

Yes, I can almost hear what you are saying to yourself; “there are other natural resources (wind and solar).” Just so you know, wind studies in this area have proven it is not feasible and my family does not want to loose acres of cropland and pastures to solar panels that would cover a landscape of beautiful open fields, where the cows, deer, turkeys, coyotes, rabbits etc. roam freely.  Those acres that would be covered in panels would not be able to produce harvestable crops or graze the cows.  Not to mention, if one malfunctions, where would one dispose of it?

Governor Cuomo, it is time to look at the bigger picture.  What may be great and wonderful for the City, is not logical for the Southern Tier.  While the City benefits from the resources of upstate, the Southern Tier is crumbling, families have been destroyed because of the lack of work, government regulations stop landowners from creating revenue, domestic violence is out of control along with alcohol and drug addictions.

Wow, how many more families will be destroyed?  How many more businesses will leave the Southern Tier?  How many more people will be on unemployment?

It’s time Governor for you to make a decision for these landowners. We own mineral rights which come with a value that we have paid for. Who will compensate us after these rights have been denied for almost five years? The potential money could have saved many from foreclosure, bankruptcy, suicide and health related deaths because of the lack of health care facilities and the lack of income.

Once again Governor, it’s time for a decision and I  would personally appreciate a response.

Thank you,

Lisa Robinson,
Steuben County Landowner and Dairy Farmer



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