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It was the first ever Yogurt Summit in the state that produces 70 percent of the nation’s Greek yogurt. Two hours in, the conference ran out of spoons. Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times has a delightful recap of the Albany event:

Mr. Cuomo praised the yogurt industry’s growth as “staggering” and “unbelievable”: 29 yogurt plants, up from 14 in 2000; 1.2 billion pounds of milk used annually; 8,070 people employed. Chobani, for example, which started in 2005 with 5 employees, now has 1,200 in New York State.

The State Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said he hoped New York would become “the yogurt capital of the United States, if not the world.”

(snip)

Mr. Cuomo’s joy was unfettered. He described his vision for the yogurt industry as a “cluster economy” that would provide a “synergistic environment” for all types of yogurt-related businesses.

We’re talking about yogurt, not biotech!

But this being New York, farmers are calling on the state to ease some regulations. The yogurt industry here may be booming, but there are very real concerns about supplying enough milk to make the product. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports:

To supply those plants with New York milk, the state Farm Bureau estimates, New York farmers will need to produce 15 percent more milk. Farmers and dairy industry leaders say that will be a challenge.

(snip)

New York has about 610,000 dairy cows.

Individual farmers, however, are reluctant to expand when milk prices are low, a drought in the Midwest has sent corn prices soaring, and a dry summer in New York has slashed hay production.

Some farmers are skeptical of increasing production to meet the growing demand of yogurt.

“The yogurt boom? We haven’t felt any effect from it in our milk checks,” said Will Soden, who milks about 100 cows near Morrisville in Madison County. “I don’t think were benefiting from it.”

Cuomo announced a proposal to increase the number of cows farms are allowed before having to enroll in a program to regulate the animals’ feeding and waste. Environmentalists are not happy.

Best tweets from the Yogurt Summit:

Links of the Day:

– I’m very sad the fate of the Hojack Swing Bridge appears sealed. I was hoping the DEC would hold a public hearing before allowing the demolition to proceed. It’s been there as long as we’ve been alive. While it needs some work, I think it’s beautiful.

– Streetcars are on the rise in U.S. cities, but they don’t seem to make much financial sense.

The disappearing suburb, in one graphic.

– London’s mayor wrote a column in 2006 that makes him my new hero. He’s a politician who actually admits we’re too obsessed with pedophiles.

– Atheism is on the rise in the U.S. or more people are admitting to it.

– The “Pahk your cah in Hahvah yahd” New England accent is disappearing.

5 Responses to “Silicon Valley of Yogurt”

  1. August 16, 2012 at 12:11 am Mittens responds:

    Yogurt is delicious and I’m proud to say that it’s made in our region! Another great brand (of probably the closest thing I’ve ever found to a perfect food in terms of nutrition) is Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt. Tastes great, has only 100 calories, 16g of protein, a little bit of calcium, carbs and that’s about it.

  2. August 16, 2012 at 12:17 am Mittens responds:

    Made in Chenango County

  3. August 16, 2012 at 8:33 am animule responds:

    It’s great that Greek yogurt is taking off, but if you chat with people in the business, you’ll find that dairy producers are skeptical that this won’t turn out to be a huge fad. Anything that goes up this quickly, can go down just as fast. Chobani itself may be over-extended. For a small company, they threw a lot of money into Olympic advertising, which seems to be a poor choice of how to spend precious ad dollars.

  4. August 16, 2012 at 11:12 am Kevin F. Yost responds:

    Chobani is okay. However, I miss how it has replaced regular Dannon and Breyers yogurt on store shelves, though.

  5. In response to your love of the swing bridge: I was recently in Grand Haven, MI on a family trip and after a day on the beach I was following the train tracks as they ran along the Grand River. When we got to the river I was surprised to see they also had swing bridge in the middle of their river. Not sure if it is still in use but more importantly the community cherishes its presence. A quick search will bring up much information on this bridge. Too bad another one of Rochester’s icons will be lost.

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