Expanding Health Care Coverage

Project Title

Increasing Health Insurance for New York's Agricultural Sector

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Date Awarded

December 8, 2008


Central NY

Finger Lakes

Long Island

Western NY






Individual farmers are among the 2.7 million New York State residents who lack health insurance.

Agri-Services Agency, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairylea, provides health insurance to farmers and small businesses or sole proprietors. The New York Health Foundation (NYHealth) extended a grant to Dairylea to intensify and broaden its outreach and marketing activities to increase health insurance enrollment among the dairy industry as well as other major sectors of the State’s agricultural community. The grant began during a financially stable time for farmers; however, in 2008–2009, a national dairy recession coupled with the national economic recession made it difficult for farmers to afford health insurance options and Dairylea was unable to make any substantial gains in new enrollees during the grant period. NYHealth’s support did help offset enrollment losses during the dual recession and build Dairylea’s capacity to revisit its outreach and marketing efforts once the economic environment improved.

New York is the third-largest dairy exporting state in the U.S., and dairy is the largest sector of the State’s agricultural industries. Established in 1907 in New York State, Dairylea Cooperative Inc. (Dairylea) is the fifth largest dairy cooperative in the United States. Approximately 5,700 New Yorkers are enrolled in Dairylea’s health insurance offerings.

Enrollees served by Dairylea are eligible for a broad selection of health insurance plans with nationwide provider networks through BlueCross BlueShield and Aetna. Through Agri-Services Agency (a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairylea), Dairylea also provides health insurance to farmers and other agribusiness owners, (i.e., landscapers, veterinarians, milk haulers, and foresters), their families, and employees.

Dairylea will intensify and broaden its outreach and marketing activities to increase health insurance enrollment among New York’s farming community. Its new efforts are based on a successful model developed by Dairylea in Wisconsin through a partnership with the Farmers’ Health Cooperative of Wisconsin. Dairylea will expand marketing to major agricultural publications, radio, and online advertising. In addition to intensifying its focus on the dairy industry, Dairylea will target other major sectors of New York State’s agricultural community including grape growers, apple growers, maple syrup producers, and Christmas tree growers. Dairylea will partner with its agribusiness organizations to promote health coverage, as Dairylea has successfully done in other states. While increasing enrollment in private health insurance plans, Dairylea will also provide information and dually market public health insurance offerings such as Child Health Plus. Dairylea plans to increase enrollment in its health plans by 25%, or almost 2,000 New Yorkers.