State dairy leaders gather for second Yogurt Summit

Robert Duffy
Lindsay France/University Photography
New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy shows Cornell Dairy chocolate milk as an example of nutritious dairy drinks made in the state, at the Yogurt and Dairy Summit 2014.

With the state’s dairy industry tearing through an economic boom, Cornell hosted the second New York State Yogurt and Dairy Summit Oct. 15, featuring Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball and about 100 industry and government leaders.

Concurrently, as the Yogurt Summit met, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law making yogurt New York’s official state snack.

While the state government’s leadership reviewed achievements, learned of new success stories and sought to continue the dairy industry’s triumphs, John Williams, director of the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, announced that Cornell has received a $1.2 million grant to build an anaerobic digester at Cornell’s Harford Animal Science Teaching and Research Center. Digesters consume animal waste, extract methane and turn the gas into green energy.

Duffy explained how Cornell helped the state’s producers achieve economic success by conducting and disseminating research through Cornell Cooperative Extension. “What an appreciation I have for what we are achieving in New York state … [which] we could not achieve without Cornell University in terms of agriculture and including dairy, wine and all the various agricultural entities. Cornell we are blessed to have,” said Duffy.

Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, reinforced then university’s commitment to New York’s agricultural industry. “We are pleased to partner with you in today’s proceedings – which lead to our fulfilling our land-grant mission – by serving the broad spectrum of needs here in our state’s dairy industry,” said Boor. “Our college is committed to meeting you every step of the way in supporting and continuing to grow our dairy industry, which is the largest segment of the state’s food and agriculture economy.”

Duffy provided an update on the Dairy Acceleration Program, which is run by Cornell’s Pro-Dairy Program in partnership with the New York Departments of Agriculture and Markets and of Environmental Conservation. Since the first Yogurt Summit at Cornell two years ago, Cuomo has committed $1.85 million in grants for small dairy operations within the state. About 100 farms have participated in the last year, with 20 receiving help with their business plans, 36 gaining help with their nutrient management plans and 42 receiving help with both.

Got lots of milk? New York farmers produced 13.5 billion pounds of fluid milk in 2013 and supply most of the Northeast in milk and dairy products. In yogurt, cream cheese and sour cream production, New York is the nation’s top producer. For fluid milk, the state holds the No. 3 spot.

For 2013, the state’s dairy manufacturing industry used 7.9 billion pounds of milk, cream and skim varieties to make value-added dairy products – a 38 percent increase from 2008.

The industry leaders heard several success stories, including one from Cayuga Milk Ingredients of Auburn, New York, where farmers sought to reduce transportation costs by building a facility to make powdered milk for exportation. They use 2 million pounds of milk each day and have created more than 60 jobs.

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Melissa Osgood