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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.

Agriculture still big business for NYS: State Comptroller



Farming is still big business in New  York State. That’s the upshot of a report just released by the NYS  Comptroller.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says that agriculture contributed $37.6 billion to the state's economy in 2012, an increase of more than 22 percent over a five year period. 

DiNapoli says it’s not just the traditional grain and vegetable crops that are contributing to that bottom line.

"You're seeing the incredible growth of the wine industry, Upstate NY, on Long Island, the emergence of breweries, the craft beer industry is really taking hold."

He says the state ranks in the top 10 nationwide for milk and other dairy production, as well as wine, apples maple syrup and other products.

DiNapoli says many of the farms in New York are smaller, family owned farms, and he says that's a challenge since a number of young people are opting not to continue with their family farm operations.

DiNapoli does tell WXXI News that farmers in Albany for a conference recently told him they do need help from the state, particularly with improvements to the state's infrastructure.

"If you have a problem with inadequate roads or transportation to get your products to market, that's another kind of challenge where they would like to see the state do a little more."

In terms of agriculture related sales, the comptroller's report lists Wyoming County as the top county in the state, with Genesee, Wayne, Livingston and Ontario also among the top 10 counties for sales of farm products.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's firector of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
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