National Dairy Month has been, in some form or another, part of our American tradition for more than 80 years, but in New York the month takes on even greater significance as we are one of the most prolific producers of the staple food group in the nation.
According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the dairy industry is the largest segment of our agricultural industry as New York boasts more than 4,000 dairy farms. Additionally, New York is the largest producer of yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese and is the fourth-largest milk producer in the country. All of this is made possible by the hard work and dedication of our state’s incredible farmers.
Outside of the tremendous value our dairy industry brings to our state and local economies, it is also an extremely important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Per information from the International Dairy Foods Association, milk and other dairy products are a great source of calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin A. Incorporating dairy in our diets can help manage blood pressure, weight, osteoporosis and even certain cancers, notes the association.
The Assembly Minority Conference has been a staunch advocate for our state’s dairy industry, and continues to fight to improve the economic conditions and quality of life of our state’s farmers.
Case in point, we recently hosted a rally to advocate for the passage of bill A.9990, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie), our Conference’s ranking member on the Assembly Agriculture Committee, which would return state-produced whole and 2% milk to school cafeterias and help combat the economically-damaging and pointless federal prohibition on these important dietary products. We have also fought hard to protect against spiraling overtime costs facing our state’s farmers as out-of-touch Albany politicians continue to gnaw at their bottom lines.
This month, it is my sincere hope you incorporate local dairy into your family gatherings, holiday celebrations and backyard barbeques. New York’s farming community worked hard to bring these products to the table, and each time we grab some from the grocery store or farmers’ market we are strengthening both our bones and our local economies; that’s a win for everyone.