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Dairy still leader in ag, regional economy

There has been some good news lately involving dairy and the local economy. New York was recently named the top yogurt producer in the nation. This is the second year our state has earned this distinction, in large part due to the Greek yogurt producers who call New York home. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, New York produced 741 million pounds of yogurt, up from 695 million pounds in 2012. New York also accounted for 15.7 percent of the total U.S. yogurt production in 2013.

This is great news for the industry. June is National Dairy Month. I want to take some time this month to highlight just how important dairy is to our region. Milk accounts for nearly half of all agricultural receipts. In 2013, cash receipts from the marketing of milk in New York increased from $2.21 billion in 2010 to $2.85 billion in 2013. Greek yogurt has created another market for fluid milk on top of an already vibrant market for cheese, cream and butter.

The Greek yogurt boom has directly impacted farmers and the local economy as well. Earlier this month, the region’s much anticipated Agrana Fruit plant in Lysander completed construction and will soon employ 120 workers when fully operational. The company produces fruit filling for yogurt and, according to the Empire State Development Corporation, is already employing 60 people.

Agricultural is known for creating more jobs and supporting additional businesses in the surrounding area. Economists refer to this as the multiplier effect. The dairy multiplier effect is 2.3, which is high compared to other industries. To give an example, the total sale of milk in 2012 for Jefferson, Onondaga and Oswego counties was $208 million, but the economic impact is estimated to be $416 million according to Cornell Cooperative Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture. This is because farmers need suppliers, restaurants, transportation, retail, and sales outlets to do business. All of this lends to the overall economic impact.

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