June 18, 2012Dairy industry leaders and lawmakers celebrated one of New York's largest agricultural sectors at Dairy Day in Albany, where vendors gave away free samples of milk, cheese and ice cream to promote the industry.
Among supporters of the state's dairy farming industry is former National Football League running back Joe Morris, who started for the 1987 Super Bowl winning New York Giants after starting for four years at Syracuse University.
Morris recommended children drink plenty of milk along with outdoor exercise as part of the league's Play 60 campaign.
"It's important that they do this everyday," said Morris.
“Dairy princesses” from around the state showed their support for the dairy industry in Albany. The industry was called the largest sector of the agricultural economy in New York at Albany’s Dairy Day, where lawmakers supported measures to give financial aid to dairy farmers. Photo by Adam Shanks.
The former "Big Blue" second round draft pick said food like milk and cheese "are things [children] can use to fuel them up." He said dairy products "are going to make them stronger and better players."
Morris said he is more proud of raising his two daughters to be active than he is of his professional football career, in which he totaled 5,585 rushing yards over eight seasons.
"If you don't have your health, you have nothing," Morris said.
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, R-Black River, called dairy farming the "largest part of agricultural trade" in New York. Despite this, he said, "Sadly, dairy farmers in the state of New York are in decline."
Blankenbush recommends the expansion of the federal Milk Income Loss Contract Program, which reimburses milk producers if prices fall below a certain level. He also recommended a bill that would provide a "bill of rights" for dairy farmers.
Assembly bill 3675, sponsored by Assemblyman Gary D. Finch, R-Springport, would prevent milk dealers from using tactics like coercion or bribery to prevent dairy farmers from joining into an association or cooperative with other milk producers. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture Committee, of which Blankenbush and Finch are members. Versions of the bill have been introduced since 2000.
Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair William Magee, D-Nelson, a sponsor of the dairy farmer's bill of rights, said, "We do certainly need to do what we can to encourage [the dairy industry]."
"We're very pleased to recognize our dairy industry," said Darrel J. Aubertine, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets. "While trends in marketing and products come and go, New York state really is a dairy state."
"New York is on the cusp of being the yogurt capital of the world," said Dean Norton, president of the New York Farm Bureau, an agricultural advocacy group. "That will keep New York dairy products in the forefront."