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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.

Malt barley growers get a boost from Sen. Schumer

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Photo: Lakeworther, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
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Malt barley is a temperamental little plant. It needs to be brought up in very specific conditions in order to yield a quality beer. Adverse weather can destroy entire harvests, like this past season in Idaho, where heavy rains took 80 percent of their crop.

That’s why Senator Schumer is pushing for insurance for New York malt barley farmers.

“There are just too many obstacles, risk, and cost standing in the way. And our job here will be to get federal crop insurance for malt barley here in New York state, and then malt barley will take off.”

There’s increasing demand for malt barley from microbrewers across western New York, and legislation to encourage makers to use more local ingredients. The hope is that more farmers will plant malt barley once federal insurance assumes some of the risk.

Jeff Tout is a malt barley farmer in Fayette. He says he can see the success his neighbors have had in the wine industry, and it gives him hope.

“We could model our future success and our business model after what’s been a very, very successful grape industry wine model.”

Senator Schumer’s malt barley proposal also calls for greater access to financing for these farmers.

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