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.

Strategies for farm succession planning offered

SYRACUSE — Farm succession now requires a legal, tax and business strategy, and industry professionals and farmers will offers tips for transferring farm ownership to the next generation at a conference, New Strategies for Farm Succession Planning, slated for Sept. 24-25 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

“Over the years, the farm-transfer process has become increasingly complex. At the same time, farmland values continue to appreciate. These factors make it necessary for farmers to have in place innovative strategies to ensure a successful transition in ownership and keep the farm in agriculture,” said Ed Staehr, executive director of NY FarmNet and a senior extension associate with the Dyson School at Cornell University.

NY FarmNet organized the conference in light of the growing number of requests from farmers faced with how to successfully keep the farm business going under new management of the next generation of operators — from within, and outside, the farm family.

NY FarmNet provides free and confidential technical assistance in farm financial matters including farm startup, business planning, developing financial statements, debt restructuring and more. NY FarmNet’s personal-well-being staff helps farmers improve family and business communication skills and address stress, communication and other concerns.

NY FarmNet is an extension and outreach program of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.

Presenters include nationally renowned experts in farm succession planning. Robert Milligan, senior consultant with Dairy Strategies/professor emeritus from Cornell University; and Sharon Danes, professor and family economist at the University of Minnesota, will lead discussions on management and relationship-building relevant to farm succession planning.

Professionals from Farm Credit, Farm Family Insurance and a leading law firm in succession planning will describe how to develop a plan that works for your farm business, including funding, tax, legal and insurance strategies. A multigenerational panel of farmers will share how they implemented succession plans for their farm business.

Registration cost is $100 and includes meals and educational material. Registration is due by Sept. 12. For more information, contact 1-800-547-3276 or email