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The 800 pound butter sculpture of a scene off the farm (seen here on the World Dairy Business Blog) is usually the headliner at the Dairy Building of the New York State Fair.But people wait in a long line for another hot item being used to promote New York’s dairy industry: a cup of milk that costs a quarter at the dairy bar.That includes a young James Moore, who says "It’s the best chocolate milk and white milk I’ve ever tasted in my life." "The Chocolate is more chocolaty and it’s nice and cold."The milk is all whole milk, which probably helps. Chocolate milk rules overall. The milk bar serves five cups of chocolate for every cup of plain milk.Mary Ellen Chesbro, agricultural manager for the fair says the total cups served goes up every year. This year, she's hoping the milk bar will top 400,000 cups of milk out this year.The whole operation is run by a task force of volunteers from the dairy industry, from farmers to distributors. The goal is to promote New York dairy – the state’s biggest agricultural product.Seventeen-year old Dale Durant, who serves milk to fairgoers says it can get pretty busy at the counter."Really nice days there’s a lot of people here. Weekends we get really busy."So to get a taste, go when it’s raining.And keep an eye out for the other smart entrepreneurial move in the Dairy building - the Syracuse bakery selling cookies next to the milk bar.

Simplified application for renewable energy funds expected to help agricultural business

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The Green Pages
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing changes to their application process for accessing renewable energy funding. The suggestions are expected to make it easier for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to get renewable energy and energy efficiency funds through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

REAP has provided funding for more than 6,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, energy audits, feasibility audits and renewable energy development assistance projects since 2008.

The changes are expected to reduce paperwork, especially for projects under $80,000. It will also authorize funding for refurbished and retrofitted renewable energy systems, implement a uniform system for scoring applications, reduce certain reporting requirements and establish a quarterly application period for applicants seeking guaranteed loans.

“These changes are intended to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses throughout America,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.  “They will streamline and simplify the application process and give businesses more time to do what they do best:  innovate, create jobs and serve their rural communities.”

The USDA says the proposal is part of President Obama’s Rural America plan. The USDA is accepting comments on the suggestions through June 11, 2013.

For details on how to submit comments, or for additional information, see Page 22044 of the April 12 Federal Register, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-12/pdf/2013-07273.pdf.

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