New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today, on National Cheese Day, kicked off Dairy Month with a visit to Ideal Dairy Farms and Argyle Cheese Farmer in Hudson Falls. Joined by state elected officials, the Commissioner first visited Argyle Cheese Farmer, a NYS Grown & Certified farm, which purchased and opened a new processing plant and retail store in partnership with Ideal Dairy in 2020. The new 11,000 square foot facility is located in the former Lewis Supermarket building in the Hudson Falls community. On a weekly basis the facility processes 100 pounds of milk, 900 pounds of cheese, 1,700 pounds of whole milk yogurt, 900 pounds of Greek yogurt, and 1,000 pounds of buttermilk – all using milk sourced exclusively from Ideal Dairy. The Commissioner also toured the 6th generation, state-of-the-art dairy farm, which, despite facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, expanded its operations in 2020 by partnering with Argyle Cheese Farmer. As of January 2021, Ideal Dairy Farms resumed processing and is, for the first time in 34 years, offering dairy products made with Just A2 milk directly to the local community.
Commissioner Ball said, “We are excited to celebrate Dairy Month, which provides us all an opportunity to recognize New York’s tremendous dairy farmers and dairy manufacturers who are producing and processing some of the very best dairy products in the world. At the Department, we are proud of our efforts to support our dairy community, especially over this difficult past year, with programs such as Nourish New York and the Farmland Protection program, while also focusing our efforts on promoting our dairy products to consumers around the globe. We have a lot to be proud of when it comes to New York dairy and I encourage everyone to support their local farms and processors this month and always.”
John Dickinson, Ideal Dairy Farms owner and Northeast Dairy Producers Association Board Chair said, “Our ability to expand, create jobs, and continue to provide high quality milk to our communities is due in large part to the hard-working employees who we are fortunate to have by our side on the farm every day. A passion for cow care, environmental stewardship, and teamwork is not easy to come by, and we are thankful for every employee who helps us get nutritious milk and dairy products to families across the state. As I raise a glass of milk to the Ideal Dairy Farms team, I encourage New Yorkers to not only celebrate Dairy Month in June, but year-round.”
During the tours, the Commissioner highlighted several actions the Department has taken to support the New York dairy industry this year, in addition to its continued work to advance the sector through the Milk Marketing Advisory Council, the Dairy Promotion Order Board, the recently formed Dairy Think Tank, and more.
Nourish New York Initiative
Governor Cuomo’s Nourish New York initiative continues to grow and quickly move surplus milk and dairy products to consumers in need across the state. So far, in total, the Nourish New York program has helped move more than 37.4 million pounds of milk off the farm, representing more than $14.6 million spent to support dairy farmers as of this week. Fluid milk and finished products, such as yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream have been redirected to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, helping both families in need and dairy farmers who have been impacted by market changes as a result of COVID-19.
Food banks that have received funding through Nourish New York have purchased milk and other dairy products from processors, including Kraft Heinz, Belgiosio, Sorrento Lactalis, HP Hood, Cabot Cheese, Chobani, Upstate Niagara and Upstate Farms, Byrne Dairy, Battenkill Valley Creamery, Garelick Farms, Great Lakes Cheese, Hudson Valley Fresh, Bethel Creamery, Kriemhild Dairy, and Argyle Cheese Farmer, among many other dairy manufacturers. The Nourish New York program has now impacted all major New York State dairy cooperatives, and their farms.
Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative
In addition to the Nourish New York initiative, the Department has launched a focused farmland protection effort for its dairy farmers. So far, the Dairy Transitions Farmland Protection Initiative has provided $51.7 million to support conservation easements on 54 dairy farms, giving farmers an opportunity to diversify their operations or to transition their farms to the next generation at more affordable costs, while ensuring the land forever remains used for agricultural purposes.
Taste NY Markets and Welcome Centers throughout the state are celebrating Dairy Month by spotlighting different dairy producers in their regions and featuring a variety of delicious specials designed to encourage consumers to shop for local dairy products. Some of the featured products include Ronnybrook milk, Roc Star ice cream, Trinity Farm cheese curds, Ithaca Milk yogurt, and many more. Each Market will also feature a Flat Bessie cow cutout, each of which will display unique dairy facts and dairy-themed decorations from the State’s 10 regions. Visitors to the Taste NY Welcome Centers can vote for their favorite Flat Bessie on social media. Find your local Welcome Center at www.taste.ny.gov for more information on these and other dairy month promotions.
New Yorkers can additionally shop online at www.ShopTasteNY.com to have sundae toppings and other items to pair with their New York State dairy products delivered right to their doorstep.
Grown & Certified
During Dairy Month, the Department will additionally highlight the New York dairy industry across its social media channels. A NYS Grown & Certified Dairy Scavenger Hunt will be launched as a part of this campaign, giving consumers a chance to discover facts about some of New York’s dairy farms and processors, with $50 Taste NY gift cards going to the winners. Details will be announced on Monday, June 7 on the Department’s social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/nyagandmarkets, https://www.instagram.com/nyagandmkts/, and https://twitter.com/nyagandmarkets.
There are also 33 participating dairy processors in the NYS Grown & Certified program, sourcing milk from over 2,600 dairy farms.
Dan Egan, Executive Director of Feeding NYS, said, “The ten-member food banks of Feeding New York State join Commissioner Ball, the Department, and New York's dairy farmers and processors in celebrating Dairy Month. Dairy products are a much-sought-after item in the charitable food network; a typical food pantry client family has a significant shortfall in dairy consumption compared to the amount recommended by dieticians. This year, Nourish New York has enabled us to substantially increase the amount of New York dairy products we have been able to purchase. Combined with generous donations from New York's dairy industry, we have been able to distribute far more healthy dairy product to hungry New Yorkers. Nourish NY and Dairy Month are a winning combination.”
Jennifer Kraft, Taste NY Market Manager at the Adirondacks Welcome Center, said, "Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce is proud to be celebrating its third Dairy Month with the Taste NY program. The vending market at the Adirondacks Welcome Center features nearly three dozen New York-made dairy products like vanilla milk, honey lavender fromage blanc, cookies and cream cheesecake, and raspberry yogurt smoothies! We have also partnered with local farms to offer a self-drive agritour route which includes a farm tour at Nettle Meadow and shopping at their new tasting room, farm fresh ice cream shops at Battenkill Valley Creamery and King Brothers Dairy, and a traditional country farm stand at Bunker Hill Creamery. Visitors are encouraged to support area producers virtually as well using our new Instagram AR Effect that transports you to an interactive Adirondack farm road scene. Visit the market or lakegeorgechamber.com/tasteny to pick up a fun dairy coloring page map of the tour.”
Amy Willis, Taste NY Market Manager of the Southern Tier Welcome Center, said, “The Southern Tier Welcome Center is proud to participate in Dairy Month each June. With New York being the 4th largest producer of dairy and number one producer of yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream, we have many options to choose from within our store. Trinity Valley chocolate milk and Stoltzfus yogurt are two favorites of both staff and shoppers alike along with amazingly tasty ice cream from Gilligans in Sherburne NY. A stop at the Southern Tier Welcome Center is sure to hit the spot for every family member this Dairy Month.
About the Dairy Industry in New York State
New York’s dairy industry is a critical sector of the state’s economy and as its leading agricultural sector, dairy accounts for approximately one-half of New York’s total agricultural income. New York State has nearly 3,600 dairy producers that produce over 15 billion pounds of milk annually, making New York the nation’s fourth largest dairy state. New York’s unique and talented dairy producers and processors provide significant contributions to New York’s agriculture industry, the economy, and to the health of our communities.