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COLUMN: Dairy Day brings home lessons of farming, value-added products

— The importance of dairy can also be seen at the New York State fair. Our state creates a butter sculpture that makes national headlines and the reason some come to the fair. It is always an impressive sight. Last year, the sculpture weighed 800 pounds and depicted a scene from a school lunch room. By the way, you need 2,000 pounds of milk to produce the butter sculpture.

According to the State's Department of Agriculture and Market's website, milk is New York’s leading agricultural product and is produced all across the state. Milk sales account for one half of total agricultural receipts. Production in 2010 was 12.7 billion pounds with a preliminary value of $2.2 billion.

As of the last Agricultural Census, there are 5,700 dairy farms in New York and the Empire State is the nation’s third largest milk producer and fourth largest cheese producer, accounting for more than 7 percent of the nation’s cheese; ranked third in the production of Italian and mozzarella cheeses, accounting for nearly 10 percent of all production of Italian cheese in the nation; and ranked first in cream, cottage cheese, low-fat cottage cheese and sour cream production.

June is Dairy Month, an annual tradition begun in 1937 to celebrate the dairy industry. June Dairy Month has continued to evolve over the years and entire communities across the country, both rural and urban, have embraced it. The cooperation between farmers and other community members are really the basis of what June Dairy Month is all about – celebrating and using milk and milk products.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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