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June 6, 2014 - 3:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, dairy, UMMC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Dairy Princess honored the first baby born in Genesee County during the month of June 2014 as the Dairy Baby. Harper Grey Alexander, a baby girl, was born to Ashley and Ryan Alexander of Batavia on Tuesday, June 3, at 10:56 p.m. at United Memorial Medical Center. She weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 20-inches long. She was delivered by Patricia Beverly, CNM. Harper is the first child for the new parents and her grandparents are Russell and Deette Alexander and Steve and Pam Foster.

June is National Dairy Month. It is an annual tradition celebrating the contributions of the dairy industry and promoting nutrient-rich dairy foods.

The Genesee County Dairy Princess, Elba High School junior Kayla Wormuth, and the 4H Dairy Program organizer Tess Zuber, presented the first baby born in June with a basket of dairy products including flavored milks, product coupons, cheeses from Yancey’s Fancy, and a number of other infant items.


June 1, 2014 - 1:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in agriculture, elba, dairy.

Genesee County Dairy Maid for 2014 is 9-year-old Georgia Luft, of Elba. She wrote this article to kick off National Dairy Month.

June is National Dairy Month. What greater time to make sure your have at least three dairy products in your daily diet than now! Research recommends that everyone should consume three dairy products daily to be healthy.

Dairy products have many health benefits, especially for your bones and teeth. Dairy foods provide vital nutrients that include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, riboflavin and protein. Dairy products provide a powerhouse of nutrients!

Eating dairy products may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in older adults, while helping children and adolescence build bone mass. Dairy products have also been associated with reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and lowering blood pressure in adults. Recently research has suggested that by enjoying three servings of dairy products a day, part of a nutrient-rich and balanced diet, dairy products may help in maintaining a healthy weight. Keep in mind that choosing low-fat or fat-free forms of dairy products provide little or no solid fat while providing many other health benefits.

Keep the “3-A-Day” theme in mind as you plan your daily meals. Experts recommend three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy food every day. Many of us could use to add one additional daily serving of nutrient-rich dairy products to help meet recommendations. One dairy serving is equal to: An 8-ounce glass of milk, a 6- or 8-ounce container of yogurt, or 1½ ounces of cheese.

It’s easy to get your 3-A-Day in when you start with some yogurt for breakfast with fruit, some cheese with lunch and a big glass of milk with dinner. Enjoy a cool glass of milk during the summer months, as it does the body good!

November 29, 2011 - 9:42pm

With the planned yogurt plants for Alpina and PepsiCo in Batavia, there's nothing but opportunity ahead for regional dairy farmers, according to Kim Pickard-Dudley, general manager of the membership division of Upstate Niagara Cooperative.

More yogurt means more milk and farmers are ready to meet the demand, Pickard-Dudley said.

"We're obviously excited for this opportunity for farmers," Pickard-Dudley said.

Upstate built its own yogurt plant in West Seneca in 2006 and a year ago purchased a 100-year-old plant in Watertown.

Alpina and PepsiCo have both broken ground on sites in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park, though PepsiCo has yet to reach a purchase agreement with the GCEDC (negotiations are, we hear, currently going on at the Albany level) for the 81-acre parcel. 

Regional farmers will be able to adjust capacity to meet all the demand for milk to make yogurt, Pickard-Dudley said.

Whether that milk comes through Upstate or yogurt manufacturers go directly to farmers is unknown at this time, Pickard-Dudley.

"Farmers are always up for a challenge for meeting new demands on supply," Pickard-Dudley said.

Pickard-Dudley was in Batavia at the O-AT-KA offices on Monday to meet with Rep. Kathy Hochul, who discussed with Upstate representatives her bill to create a guest worker program to assist New York's agricultural industry.

November 23, 2011 - 2:32pm

Project Wave -- which we now know is being pursued by PepsiCo -- will be the largest yogurt plant in North America, according to an industry expert with more than 15 years in the field.

Jeff Stephen, a consultant with Productive Partners, said in an interview today that what Pepsi is planning is impressive and will be a huge benefit to the community and the local dairy industry.

"Pepsi isn't the kind of company that is going to go anywhere," Stephen said. "They're not going to cut back because of any shortage of money. This is everything you could ask for in a local community. They are going to be successful. Not everything will go to plan, but they will succeed. This is a major global commitment."

Based on industry reports, Pepsi wants to get into the yogurt business. The multinational firm is planning a merger of sorts with Theo Muller Group, a German company that makes seven different yogurt products.

Stephen said companies for years have been trying to crack the U.S. yogurt market in the belief that American consumers don't buy as much yogurt as they should. Europeans consume five or six times as much yogurt as Americans, Stephen said.

The key to the U.S. yogurt market, Stephen said, is to make yogurt with more body and texture, a yogurt that can be consumed as a meal or a key ingredient in a meal. Growth in the U.S. yogurt market has been thwarted, Stephen said, because too much of the product available in the U.S. is what Stephen called "crappy dessert yogurt."

The key to the U.S. market is Greek yogurt, which has more flavor, is more filling and has greater nutritional value.

That's the kind of yogurt that will be the basis of Alpina's product line. Alpina was the first big signing for Genesee County Economic Development Center in the new ag park. Alpina is building an initially 10,000-square-foot facility that will employ 50 people.

Pepsi's plans begin with a 300,000-square-foot facility that will employ 180 people, with a build out by 2033 of 16 production lines and 600 employees.

There is no yogurt plant in North America that's close to that size, Stephen said.

When Stephen saw what was being planned for Project Wave, as first reported on The Batavian, he figured Pepsi, whose plans with Theo Muller had already been reported by the Wall Street Journal, was a likely prospect for the property. A project of that size would almost certainly be a plant for a large corporation moving into a new product line. 

The deal bringing Pepsi to Batavia hasn't been signed yet, but construction has begun on the facility and Pepsi is clearly eager to get its new product to market by 2013.

Stephen just hopes Pepsi is planning a yogurt line based on Greek yogurt and not "crappy dessert yogurt," which he doesn't think will help Pepsi or other yogurt makers expand the U.S. market.

Whatever Pepsi does, he doesn't see the Pepsi products competing directly with Alpina, which will be producing a slightly higher end yogurt and going after niche markets.

Pepsi's main competitors will be Dannon and Yoplait.

Dannon, based in White Planes, is a pure dairy company and between its two main brands, controls about 38 percent of the yogurt market. Yoplait, owned by General Mills, has another 6 percent. The rest of the market is shared by regional players and store brands, some of which, Stephen said, are very good.

Another potential local player in the yogurt market is O-AT-KA Milk Products, which is owned by Upstate Niagara Cooperative. 

The rumor is that a current expansion at O-AT-KA is for the local plant to start making yogurt ingredients.

It's unknown who the ingredients will be sold to, but Upstate purchased a 100-year-old, one-line yogurt plant in Watertown about a year ago.

Charitably, Stephen said, the Watertown plant is "historic," but it shows Upstate's intention to move into the yogurt business.

Whatever product Pepsi brings to market, Stephen said, will be thoroughly researched and well marketed.

"I have very high respect for Pepsi," Stephen said. "They are efficient in manufacturing and production and very good marketers. They are not the kind of company that gives up."

It's unknown whether Pepsi will purchase its dairy products through O-AT-KA or directly from farmers (those are discussions that probably haven't even taken place yet, Stephen said), but as for farmers, Stephen said they will be happy working with Pepsi.

Pepsi, he said, takes an approach that being easy to work with helps lower costs.

"I think the farmers will want to do business with them," he said.

As for milk supply, the market will probably be shaken up for awhile initially, but the big farmers have little trouble adding capacity (more cows) and there should be an ample milk supply in Western New York to meet the needs of Pepsi, Alpina and O-AT-KA, and any other players that enter the market at the ag park.

Perhaps the worst news for other dairy businesses, Stephen said, is that if Pepsi wants to hire an employee, they will hire that employee. They will spend what it takes, he said, to get the best employees, especially in key positions.

But it's a great pool of employees that is attracting Pepsi to Batavia, Stephen said.

For years, he's been telling dairy companies to stop manufacturing in places like Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia because the standard of living is so much better in smaller communities.

Employees can actually afford to buy a house in a place like Batavia. That isn't true in larger population centers. And, Stephen said, the schools are good, and that's attractive to a major employer.

"You have a pretty high quality of life," Stephen said. "It's a pretty attractive place to put people who are going to work for you for a long time."

August 28, 2009 - 2:38pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, agriculture, dairy, byron, Gillibrand.

Here's the verbatim testimony of Byron dairy farmer Robin Denniston-Keller given at the Senate hearing on the dairy industry held at GCC on Thursday.

It's titled "Legislative Responses to the Dairy Crisis: Reforming the Pricing Structure."

"...I am a proud American dairy farmer. My husband and I milk 100 Jersey cows and take care of another 100 young stock on our farm 10 minutes northeast of here in Byron, New York. It’s a privilege and honor to be asked to speak today.

"I’m not an economist or an expert on milk pricing, but I do feel I have common sense and a strong work ethic, which have served me well so far in life. I milk my own cows every day, and being up to my elbows in the results of lactation and excretion (generally not at the same time!) gives me a certain sense of reality!

August 27, 2009 - 7:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, genesee county, GCC, agriculture, dairy, Hillibrand.

BATAVIA, NY -- About 200 people attended a formal Senate hearing this afternoon at Genesee Community College focused on a dairy industry in crisis and possible solutions.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand heard testimony from producers and processors, economists and dairy industry experts. At the end of the two-hour hearing, which started about a half hour late, she said she was taking some good ideas back to Washington to use in developing long-term fixes.

The dairy industry is hard hit by: a pricing structure that's based on only 2 percent of the industry's products: higher fuel and feed costs; trade inequities; the expense of meeting increased regulations and standards not required by international competitors; and by a swiftly fluctuating market -- stemming from changing demands, the impact of product perishibility and supply -- plus many other factors.

It's a tough business and it requires a certain youthfulness to do the heavy physical labor, 365-days-a-year, with a liklihood of losing money at the end of the year instead of making a profit.

One of the surest ways of increasing the health of the dairy industry, is to increase consumer demand for its products. Several spoke in favor of the federal government doing more to help out, such as buying more milk for school breakfast programs, stocking up food banks with cheese or buying powdered milk for women and infant nutrition programs. In other words, use more Department of Agriculture money going toward food purchases anyway to beef up dairy consumption.

To compete with a ever-increasing variety of thirst-quenching beverages, the dairy industry needs to develop new products and boost the flavor, "mouth feel," and nutrition of milk without adding fat or calories.

They also called for leveling the field when it comes to trade. Why does an American dairy farmer have to pay a 15-cent per-hundred-weight fee for marketing and promotion, when the foreign importer does not yet still enjoys the benefits?

One good way to boost oversees consumption is to sell more solid milk product, which is in great demand worldwide. But more production plants are needed. Yet a capital expansion program for Batavia has been on hold since 2005 pending USDA approvals.

Rep. Eric Massa said he'll enlist his colleagues to pressure the USDA to speed things up if Kim Pickard-Dudley drafts him a letter on why the capital expansion program is critical for Western New York. She spoke as a representative of the farmer-owned Upstate Niagara Co-op.

Robert Church advocated "market-driven solutions" and federalizing uniform industry standards, so states like California, do not have unfair advantage over Western New York's dairy industry. He's herd manager for Patterson Farms, a 980-cow operation west of Auburn.

"You said one-size-fits-all," Massa told Church. "My job is to protect New York. That's what I'm here to do."

The problems faced by New Mexico, California or Arizona dairies, compared to here, are vastly different because their circumstances are different, Massa said, about as different in fact as Mars is from Pluto.

"California cows are happy cows," so goes the marketing slogan, but Massa said here it's more like "New York cows are really angry cows."

August 27, 2009 - 6:59pm
posted by Bea McManis in dairy, Lee, Gillibrand, Massa, price reform.

milk2.jpgCongressman Massa, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Lee listened to two panels.  The first Producers and Processors, the second consisted of Economists and Experts.

The best lines of the day....Congressman Massa, after learning that each NY dairy farmer must contribute to a national promotion fund, part of which is used by the State of California to promote their California Happy Cow ads in New York State. Fifteen cents per hundredweight is levied on all milk marketed commercially in NYS.

He asked, "Why can't we produce ads for...let's say... New York Happy Yankee Cows, and play them in California?".

When told that it is tradition that  dairy farmers' have responsibility to transport milk to the processor...just like lobster fisherman must arrange transportation of their catch from the ship to the cannery.

Congressman Massa mused, "I don't know how to milk a lobster."

June 11, 2009 - 9:23am
posted by Bea McManis in agriculture, dairy, local business.

With all this talk about Lamb Farm, I went hunting and found their website.

It is well worth the time to look through it all.  Make sure you click on the videos of the clipper and the milking merry go round.


June 10, 2009 - 7:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in dairy, genesee county legislature.


County Legislator Charles Zambito, Elba, presents a proclamation in honor of dairy month to Dairy Princes Mackenzie Reynolds and Eric Zuber.  Following the proclamation, ice cream sandwiches, an annual tradition, were handed out to every person in the chamber. Um, good.

May 22, 2009 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, dairy.

As The Batavian reported two months ago, Genesee County's dairy farmers have been squeezed by falling prices and higher production costs -- with prices being driven from excess milk supplies during the recession.

The New York Farm Bureau, lead by local dairyman Dean Norton, has convinced the federal government to increase dairy exports, which should help tighten supply and bring prices back in line with production costs.

The move comes after months of advocating from Farm Bureau's farmer/members who directly lobbied USDA with Congressional visits in Washington, sent e-mail messages and called or wrote hundreds of letters to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.

"Our members should be proud of their hard work in lobbying for USDA to activate the Dairy Export Incentive Program to help alleviate our dairy crisis," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau and a dairy farmer from Batavia.

April 1, 2009 - 2:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, dairy.

Local dairy farmers are hurting, according to Dean Norton, president of the New York Farm Bureau.

Prices have plummeted -- because of decreased demand for dairy products at home and abroad -- while costs have increased substantially. 

Currently, milk is selling for $10.50 to $11.50 per 100 weight (about 8.5 gallons), while the cost of production is $15 and $16 per 100 weight.

Last year, milk sold for about $20 per 100 weight.

"The area economy stinks and it's a tough year," Norton said. "Receipts are down and individuals might be exiting the dairy industry."

Exports have dropped and domestic demand has been driven down as people eat out less during the recession, so there is shrunken demand for dairy products.

To help address the plunging prices, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has initiated a herd retirement program, which will help reduce the number of milk-producing cows and lower supply.  Bids must be postmarked by May 1.

Dairy farmers throughout the nation are hurting according to The Rural Blog:

“The number of dairy cows being sent to slaughter has risen by about 20 percent from last year, as desperate farmers cull their herds and sell at fire-sale prices,” Sue Kirchoff writes for USA Today. “Adding to the problem, banks are less willing or able to extend farmers’ loan payments amid the financial turmoil.” John Murawski reports for the News & Observer in Raleigh, "Several dozen dairy farms in North Carolina are expected to go under this year." (Read more)

The National Dairy Federation has called on President Obama to aggressively address the problem, or thousands of jobs could be lost.

There are several reasons for the implosion: oversupply, falling export demand and continued high prices for supplies such as feed,” Kirchoff explained. “The dairy sector in the past has been less prone to huge price swings than other areas of agriculture, but that’s changing as the industry relies more on the markets and less on government programs.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a program to buy 200 million lbs. of nonfat dry milk surpluses for domestic low-income programs.

Neighboring Wyoming County is being especially hard hit by the downturn in the dairy market, according to a story by Tom Rivers.

The $60 million in reduced revenue is compared to 2008 prices, when dairies averaged about $17.50 per hundredweight. This year the prices are forecast to average $12.80 for the year. The prices are expected to climb above the current $11 level and top $14 in September, which is still below most farms' production costs.

The county's 47,970 cows, which outnumber the county's residents, produced $178.9 million worth of milk products in 2007, by far the most in the state.

"The market is saturated and these prices are likely to be with us until mid-summer," Norton said.

January 30, 2009 - 3:51pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in video, agriculture, dairy, food, dairy princess, recipes, quesadillas.

This is a perfect recipe for a great Superbowl appetizer!

December 19, 2008 - 2:18pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in video, agriculture, dairy, food, dairy princess, recipes.

You couldn't ask for more perfect timing on this one folks—that is, as long as you've already got the ingredients in the house. In this fifth episode of Cooking With the Dairy Princess, Anika Zuber shows us how to prepare a rich, white chocolate, hot chocolate.


May 15, 2008 - 1:39pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, tourism, dairy.

From the Daily News (Thursday):

• Plans are in the works for a dairy tourism center in Batavia that would include a gift shop, a cafe, interactive displays and other features pertaining to the dairy industry. The center may be located near the entrance to the new ag-tech park next to the Genesee County Fairgrounds. Reporter Tom Rivers writes about "a committee" that is planning the center, but never mentions the name of the committee, whom it reports to, nor how it was created. He also lists some "organizers," but never tells us what they are organizing. How are they related to the committee?

• Horizon Wind Energy produced plans for a shrunken-down version of the Dairy Hills Wind Farm project in Perry. The project that originally called for 60 wind turbines was scaled down to "about 38" wind turbines. Reporter Matt Surtel writes that the company will work through "appropriate studies" over the next few weeks that will then be submitted to the Perry Town Board. Not sure what kind of studies, nor why they are appropriate.

• Batavia native Stacey Lynn Shepard, a staff writer for The Bakersfield Californian, was honored for her environmental reporting at the Gruner Awards Banquet in Fresno, earlier this month. Her stories about an oil refinery in Kern County, California, can be found at the newspaper's Web site. Her profile page can also be found there.

• The Bank of Castile will no longer postpone bank transactions made at its branches after a certain time. Whether you make a deposit at 9:40am or 4:15pm, your transaction will go through that day — not the "next" business day.

• In police news, a Batavia man found with nearly a pound of marijuana was charged with third-degree criminal possession of marijuana; an Avon man was charged with DWI at Ellicott Street; a Batavia man was charged with harassment and criminal mischief after a woman told police that he choked her.

• City police are investigating a hit-and-run that happened Tuesday morning at Center and Main streets. They are looking for a large white truck that backed into a green Hyundai. Call (585) 343-6350 if you have information.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on



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