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July 14, 2013

Farm briefs: July 14, 2013

New York selected for Greek yogurt program

ALBANY — New York State has been selected as one of four states across the country to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Greek Yogurt Pilot Program within the National School Lunch Program for the 2013-14 school year, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

In March 2013, the Cuomo administration sent a letter to U.S.D.A. Secretary Tom Vilsack about the program, and the Governor’s Office in Washington, D.C., maintained a continual dialogue with USDA staff over the last five months to ensure New York, the top yogurt producing state in the nation, was selected. As a result of this decision, USDA is now seeking bidders to supply four-ounce and 24-ounce containers of Greek yogurt to schools across New York.

“It is fitting that New York — the largest producer of yogurt in the nation — has been selected to participate in this national school lunch pilot program,” Cuomo said. “It is a win-win for the state, exposing our students to a nutritional product and expanding the marketplace for Greek yogurt producers and suppliers in New York state. This is a great opportunity to promote New York-made products and encourage healthy eating in our communities.”

In January, USDA announced it would begin a pilot program to test the cost-effectiveness of including Greek yogurt in school meal programs. Greek yogurt offers higher nutritional benefits than traditional yogurt with less sugar, carbohydrates, sodium and lactose as well as an increase in protein per ounce. Arizona, Idaho and Tennessee will join New York in this first-ever pilot program.

New York is the yogurt capital of the nation, with yogurt processors producing 692 million pounds in 2012 compared to 587 million pounds of yogurt in California. In 2011, California produced 627 million pounds of yogurt compared to 554 million pounds in New York. New York is also the fourth largest milk producing state in the country, producing 13.2 billion pounds in 2012.

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