dairy

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New York’s dairy industry likely won’t see more of the good times next year farmers experienced in 2014, largely because dairy prices and profits are expected to level off.

Andy Novakovic, a professor of agriculture economics at Cornell University, says dairy markets in New York are already starting to decline to be in balance with the rest of the world, "but we have quite a bit of altitude to lose before we get to where the rest of the world is," he said. 

This was a great year for the dairy industry, he said. 

Courtesy of Mercer's Dairy.

The federal government continues to try to get more businesses to go international, and that includes businesses in central New York.

Among the success stories at a “Made in Rural America” conference in Cortland recently was the growth of an international market for Mercer’s wine ice cream. Mercer’s Dairy in Boonville has been a local ice cream institution for years on Route 12, halfway between Utica and Watertown.

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Chobani Greek yogurt will be on more school lunch trays across the country as part of a new school lunch program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today awarded the central New York yogurt powerhouse a contract to expand a pilot program adding Greek-style yogurt to school lunches.

Chobani will now be able to put its yogurt in cafeterias for a month in seven states when the new school year starts up in August. Those states include New York, California and Illinois.

It comes after a successful three month pilot program this past school year in fewer states.

novemberdelta / via Flickr

Byrne Dairy has entered the booming yogurt business in upstate New York as its new yogurt production facility goes online this week in Cortland County.

The central New York dairy icon moves from a milk and ice cream company to one producing both tradition and Greek-style yogurt, as well as sour cream and cheese.

Yogurt, namely Greek yogurt, has been a boon for the dairy industry in upstate New York in recent years, led by Chobani and followed by others.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

The New York state dairy industry is in a good place right now, and state officials say they want to keep it that way.

When New York State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball was a boy, he used to travel the state for his family’s farm business.

"It seemed like there were 60 dairies between Albany and Buffalo. And then there were a handful," Ball said. "And now at the department, we inspect and keep our eyes on close to 400 processing plants, and there are about 40 in the queue right now to get up and running.”

messycupcakes / Flickr

New York-based yogurt company Chobani has registered its company in Delaware. Chobani says it’s not going anywhere, but it’s increased rumors the company is going public.

Chobani's headquarters is in Norwich, in Chenango County and it's factory is in New Berlin. But for tax purposes, the company is now a resident of Delaware.

Many corporations call Delaware their home on paper, because the state has more lenient corporate policies than others. 

Innovation Trail

A Syracuse-area farm worker is touring regional churches and community centers to bring attention to workplace dangers on dairy farms.

José Cañas is originally from El Salvador, but he’s worked in New York agriculture for three years.

Cañas says he’s putting his job on the line to let people know about the risks posed to agricultural laborers from slippery floors, large animals, heavy equipment, and chemicals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 55 fatalities on New York state dairy farms since 2006.

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Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the United States Department of Agriculture to help dairy farmers in central New York sort through the recently passed Farm Bill. During a stop in Chenango County recently, Schumer said the updated milk portion of the bill is good for farmers, but confusing.

publicenergy / Flickr

For farmers in upstate New York, going organic isn’t easy. But one farmer who’s made the switch is happy that the new Farm Bill will make it easier to transition from traditional to organic farming in the future.

Ben Simons has been a dairy farmer in Remsen for two decades. Two years ago, he decided to convert his operation over to an organic dairy.

"Because I did not want to expand my dairy anymore," Simons says. "It was very difficult to stay a small family farm and compete with conventional milk.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Rep. Richard Hanna and central New York farmers celebrated the passage of the Farm Bill, with a tour of a Madison County Dairy producer Thursday.  

At the Hood Dairy in Oneida, Hanna ticked off the things in the Farm Bill that will help upstate New York farmers: the five-year bill provides stability for farmers; it transitions farmers to a more modern dairy support program; it expands crop insurance, offers more support for organic farming, and help to young farmers who want to get in the business.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill into law Friday, after four years of failed attempts to pass one. Rep. Richard Hanna says the bill will give economic stability to farmers in the upstate New York.

Hanna toured the Dutch Hill Creamery in Chenango Forks Friday morning and said the new Farm Bill will have a great impact on farmers in the state. And that New York state should focus more on the potential benefits of expanded farming.

messycupcakes / Flickr

Central New York yogurt powerhouse Chobani won’t be able to call its yogurt “Greek” in the United Kingdom after a court ruling.

A British court ruled yesterday that because Chobani’s Greek-style yogurt is made in New York state, not in Greece, they can’t call it Greek. The legal challenge came from a Chobani rival, Fage.

The court said the labeling misleads consumers. Chobani hit U.K. store shelves in 2012, but withdrew its products last year, according to the Associated Press.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

New York Sen. Charles Schumer says it’s “a good day” for upstate New York farmers now that there is a deal in the House of Representatives and Senate for a Farm Bill.

Congress is expected to begin voting on the bill later today. The five year farm bill, agreed upon in committees on Monday, reduces crop subsidies and increases crop insurance.

Farm Bills were first written during the Great Depression. This latest one took two years of negotiation.

Schumer, a Democrat, says the bill is especially good for small dairy farmers and maple sugar tappers in New York.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The central New York agriculture community got a chance to get the ear of Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) this week, highlighting several areas where action by the federal government could help farmers and food processors do their jobs.

Topic number one on the agriculture agenda is to urge Congress to pass the Farm Bill, that’s been languishing in Congress for two years. Bill Byrne of Byrne Dairy is optimistic as lawmakers seem to be reaching consensus on the dairy policy in the Farm Bill, one of the big sticking points.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Rep. Richard Hanna is urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to delay its new random inspection program for dairy farms. He and six other upstate members of Congress, including Dan Maffei, Bill Owens and Tom Reed, signed a letter to the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA asking for consideration.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

Farmers aren't the only ones worrying about Congress' failure to come to an agreement on the Farm Bill. Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei says partisan politics have gotten in the way, and are hurting Congress' ability to move legislation forward.

Maffei says the Farm Bill, and the legislation connected to it, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, should be passed, though both Republicans and Democrats need to compromise on their positions.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A new dairy processing facility under construction in Cayuga County plans to make most of its money on the export market and its owners are hoping trade rule changes don’t hinder that.

An $80 million dairy facility going up in Auburn plans to sell powdered milk to countries in Asia and North Africa, but current trade rules with some of those countries could make exporting their products difficult.

fishhawk / Flickr

A Northeast dairy cooperative headquartered in Syracuse plans to merge with a larger national operation from Missouri.

Century-old Dairylea told members at its annual meetings this week of its plan to merge with Dairy Farmers of America. Dairylea has been a partner organization since 2002.

The move, pending approval from members, will better position its farmers for the future, Dairylea spokeswoman Karen Cartier said.

Upstate New York has lugged around the Rust Belt identity for decades now.
But today, the region is trying on a new reputation as the king of yogurt — especially the high-protein Greek yogurt that consumers crave.

Kabsik Park/flickr

A coalition of New York state environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the state’s environmental regulators in July. The groups claim that the Department of Environmental Conservation violated environmental law when it loosened the regulation of dairy farms. The result is that the state’s very public support of the yogurt industry may have hit a roadblock.

During a highly publicized Yogurt Summit last year in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the spirit behind the industry in New York.

“When you see an opportunity, grab it and get it done,” Cuomo said.

Kate O'Connell/Innovation Trail

It’s soft, stinky and delicious, and it’s an opportunity for economic development.

Upstate New York looks ready to usher in a new era of cheese production. A partnership between supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets and Cornell University hopes to make the region a leader in the artisanal cheese industry.

Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kathy Boor, says growing demand for local quality cheese presents an opportunity to diversify the region’s dairy industry.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

St. Lawrence County may be losing population, but there's one group that keeps growing: Old Order Amish. They've moved to northern New York because of cheap, available farmland. But in order to maintain their lifestyle, the Amish need a market for the milk the produce. So they've turned to an unlikely partner: dairy co-op Agri-Mark. 

Drive down some roads in the county, and it’s like stepping back in time. Traffic comes from buggies, not cars. Children in dark clothes and straw hats and bonnets play in neatly kept farm yards.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

The five year Farm Bill, likely to pass a vote in the U.S. Senate next Monday, includes an amendment from New York Sen. Charles Schumer that attempts to address rising demand for milk.

Schumer says the amendment could help New York’s dairy farmers supply a fast-growing yogurt industry.

It would create a $5 million pilot program aimed at helping small dairy farms access technical help for  things like animal nutrition and business planning.

novemberdelta / via Flickr

An increased demand for long-lasting dairy products has prompted Byrne Dairy to expand one of its three dairy processing facilities in the Syracuse area.

Byrne Dairy-owned Ultra Dairy wants to add about 100,000 square feet to its plant along Interstate 481 in DeWitt. The company says the expansion will allow them to add about 50 more jobs at the plant.

Ultra Dairy uses a more sterilized pasteurization process that allows products to have a shelf life of up to 140 days. The plant hasn't been able to keep up with orders lately, it told county economic development officials.

Kate O'Connell

Upstate New York’s newest Greek yogurt factory opened its doors in Batavia, Monday. The factory is a joint venture between Pepsi and German dairy giant, the Theo Muller Group. The Muller Quaker Dairy Plant is touted as a shot in the arm for the dairy industry in western New York.

The 350,000 square foot facility will produce several yogurt products, including the fast growing Greek yogurt varieties. The plant will initially operate three lines, producing more than 120,000 cups of yogurt per hour.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

As lawmakers in the Senate's Judiciary Committee debate the immigration reform bill released last month, farmers in New York State are hoping to find enough workers to fully staff their operations. It's a yearly struggle in New York and nationwide and according to a report by Farm Credit East, more than 1000 farms in New York could close or shrink by two-thirds if immigration laws were fully enforced.

Joanna Richards

A Tylerville dairy farm, in Jefferson County, is growing, in part thanks to help from National Grid. The company awarded the farm a grant of $50,000 to increase its access to electricity.  

Utica-area Rep. Richard Hanna is one Republican who expects to be on board with any immigration reform that is being proposed in Washington currently. The 22nd Congressional District representative says it's an important issue in a region where agriculture is key.

Hanna says he's heard about the labor crisis facing the dairy industry ever since he came into office. Farmers tell him they can't find enough documented employees to work the farm.

wander.lust / via Flickr

Congress seems to have reached a deal to stop milk prices from rising to a warned about $6 a gallon in the New Year, but it's unclear if it will be voted on before the end of 2012.

Anthony Albright / Flickr

The yogurt industry in upstate New York is getting attention as a bright spot in the region's lackluster economy. Now, Byrne Dairy is will be joining other companies in this growing agribusiness.

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