A brown calf peeks out of her barn.
June 1, 2023
Albany, NY

State Agriculture Commissioner Kicks Off Dairy Month with Dairy Education Days

State Agriculture Commissioner Kicks Off Dairy Month with Dairy Education Days
Dairy Education Days to Continue Through June, Builds on State‘s Investment in Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Efforts
Department to Highlight New York’s Dairy Industry with Farm and Processing Plant Tours Across the State
Taste NY Welcome Centers and Markets Hosting Special Promotions for Dairy and Encouraging People to Buy Local Dairy Products

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today, on World Milk Day, kicked off Dairy Month at Castleton Elementary School in Castleton-on-Hudson for the first event in the Department’s annual Dairy Education Days series. As part of a collaboration with American Dairy Association North East (ADANE), the series brings members of the Department to elementary school classrooms across the state to help kids learn about New York’s dairy community. Today’s classroom reading comes on the first day of Dairy Month and is part of the Department’s monthlong celebration of the dairy industry, which is the largest segment of New York’s agricultural sector. Other Dairy Month events and activities include Department tours of New York’s dairy farms and state-of-the-art dairy processing plants across the State, including establishments in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley, Central New York, Southern Tier, and Western New York, and special promotions at Taste NY Markets around the State. 

Commissioner Ball said, “New York State is home to some of the most hardworking dairy farmers and dairy manufacturers who are producing and processing some of the very best dairy products in the world. Dairy Month gives us all an opportunity to celebrate this incredible sector of our industry, as well as introduce the next generation of leaders to the value of understanding where our food comes from. We have a lot to be proud of when it comes to New York dairy, and I encourage everyone to join us in recognizing their local farms and processors this month and always.” 

Throughout the month of June, the Department will highlight the sustainability practices of New York dairy producers and processors, as well as the public health work of the Department’s Milk Control and Dairy Service team, as we promote the importance of the dairy industry to New York’s economy and the health of our communities.

Dairy Education Days
Since the program’s launch in 2018, dozens of staff members from the Department have visited their local elementary and middle schools to help New York’s school children understand where their milk and dairy products come from and instill in them an early appreciation of the benefits of consuming New York products. Educational materials for the schools and students, including fun giveaways, are provided by the ADANE. Department staff are visiting schools across the state this month to participate in this annual educational tradition.

The Dairy Education Days Series is part of the Department’s continued investment in agricultural education as well as workforce development efforts. In 2020, the Dairy Think Tank was created at the advice of the Milk Marketing Advisory Council to bring together leaders in the industry, including representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Department of Labor, and Empire State Development, to discuss the current challenges facing the dairy industry and the industry’s future. The Dairy Think Tank identified workforce development and processing expansion as its top priorities, and the group’s efforts have been focused on these two areas.  
In addition, earlier this year the Governor announced a commitment to creating a strong agriculture workforce pipeline in the State to strengthen New York's agricultural industry for years to come. This will include working with key stakeholders to identify internships and apprenticeships across the industry and working with educational institutions to ensure that the necessary skills and standards required by the industry are being taught to students.

Dairy Tours
In recognition of Dairy Month, Commissioner Ball and Department staff will tour several dairy farms and processing plants across New York State, including establishments in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley, Central New York, Southern Tier, and Western New York.  These tours will promote the importance of the dairy industry to New York’s economy and the health of communities.  New York State is a leader in the dairy industry, with 3,200 dairy farms and nearly 300 world-recognized dairy processing plants across New York.  

Taste NY
In addition, 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. Promotions at the welcome centers include 10% off select brand dairy products, wine product and cheese pairings, free ice cream days, and more. Find your local Welcome Center at www.taste.ny.gov for more information on these and other dairy month promotions.

Senator Michelle Hinchey, Senate Committee on Agriculture Chair,  said, “New York dairies are mostly small, generational businesses kept alive by families who love feeding their communities and whose tireless efforts have elevated dairy as our largest agricultural sector. June Dairy Month is an important opportunity to honor the hard work, innovation, and stewardship of our local dairy farmers and processors while putting the unique challenges facing our farming families front and center so that we can make it easier for them to do business in New York and maintain our position as a leading Dairy State."

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, Assembly Committee on Agriculture Chair, said, “Dairy Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate this vital industry. Dairy is critically important to our agricultural economy, producing safe and nutritious food, while developing new products consumers crave. It’s also an important time to recognize the hard work of our dairy farmers, processors, and milk haulers. They are responsible for bringing this food to market, and we are very grateful for their efforts.”

Tonya Van Slyke, Executive Director of the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA), said, “Dairy Month is a celebration of dairy as the state’s top agricultural commodity, recognizing the industry’s contribution to our economy and the long-standing commitment of our dedicated farmers and farm workers as caretakers of the animals, the environment, their communities, and each other. NEDPA is proud to be a farmer driven organization representing over half of the milk produced in New York State, and we are proud to be the voice, resource and network of many progressive dairy farms statewide for the last 30 years. This June, we are grateful to join Commissioner Ball and his team for supporting and highlighting our state’s generational family dairies, hardworking farm employees, dairy processors, and industry partners for all that they do on behalf of our industry. Together, alongside all our family dairy farms, we raise a glass of milk to toast and celebrate an industry committed to excellence and providing nutritious products to our great communities in New York and beyond."

John Chrisman, CEO of American Dairy Association North East, said, “Helping to grow consumer understanding of New York dairy farmers and the nutritious products they produce is the foundation of everything we do at American Dairy Association North East. We are proud to partner with the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets to highlight dairy and help students make the connection with the industry that provides the milk and dairy products they enjoy at school – especially during National Dairy Month.”

John T. Gould, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, said, “Upstate Niagara Cooperative is honored to host Commissioner Ball at one of our eight farmer-owned milk processing plants during Dairy Month.  Our 260 farmers and 1,700 employees have an unmatched dedication to caring for their animals and making the best possible dairy products for our neighbors and consumers around the country.  Commissioner Ball’s visit highlights not only this but the depth and breadth of rewarding opportunities available to those interested in working in the dairy industry.  We are encouraged by the Commissioner’s commitment to New York’s dairy industry and look forward to our continued work together.”

David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President and dairy farmer said, "There is much to celebrate during June Dairy Month. New York dairy is not only the state's number one agricultural commodity supporting thousands of jobs and our state's economy, but it also provides healthy, nutritious products that feed our families. Our dairy farms continue to lead the way in animal care, environmental sustainability, and workforce development. We appreciate Commissioner Ball's ongoing support during June Dairy Month. State investment and collaboration with the industry will build a stronger New York and local food system." 

Larry Bailey, Owner of Walker Farms, LLC, DFA Member, and DPO Advisory Board Chair, said, "On behalf of the Dairy Promotion Order board we would like to thank all the New York Dairy farmers for their commitment and hard work in producing some of the highest quality milk in the nation.  The Dairy Promotion Order board asks you to raise a glass of milk with us and celebrate June dairy month and our great New York Dairy industry."

Benjamin Houlton, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said, “New York is home to the nation’s most innovative, hardworking, and sustainable dairy farmers. Using cutting-edge science to build upon a proven track record of environmental sustainability and attract world-class dairy product manufactures, our state’s dairy community is continuously driving progress. Through our research and extension programs, Cornell CALS is proud to partner with NYS Agriculture and Markets to support dairy farm families year-round, but Dairy Month is an important time to acknowledge the dedication and science that goes into each glass of milk we drink.”

Andrew M. Novakovic, E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics Emeretis, D.H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, said, “New York has been a dairy state since its inception four centuries ago. Today it is one of the leading milk producing regions of the world. It includes dairy farms whose families excel in care for their cows, workers, and the natural resources that are the foundation of their farms.  The superior quality product they produce is used by local processors who make a varied tapestry of cheese, milk, yogurt and other dairy foods that delight the senses and provide a rich array of nutrients for good health.”

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 3,200 dairy farms that produce over 15 billion pounds of milk annually, making New York the nation’s fifth 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.

To join the Department in celebrating World Milk Day on June 1 and National Dairy Month in June, use hashtags #WorldMilkDay and #EnjoyDairy on your social media posts. You can register your social media campaign on the World Milk Day website and refer to their social media ideas to inspire your Dairy Month posts.