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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.

Young farmers head effort to feed those in need

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Veronica Volk / WXXI
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Sharon Smith, Executive Director of the Food Bank Association of New York State, accepts a donation from Nicole Rawleigh and the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.

Farmers and agriculture industry leaders are coming into Rochester from all over the state for the New York Farm Bureau’s 58th State Annual Meeting.

The Bureau kicked off its meeting by announcing they had broken their record for this year’s “Harvest for All,” a national farm donation program. In partnership with the Regional Food Bank Association and FoodLink, New York farmers have collectively donated 9.6 million pounds of produce.

FoodLink's Co-Executive Director Jeanette Batiste-Harrison says this particular program is especially valuable to the community.

"We've made an effort to not just make sure that they have enough food but to make sure that they have healthy food," Batiste-Harrison said.

The Farm Bureau's President Dean Norton says while they did break last year's record, they haven't yet reached their goal.

"We're hoping to announce by the end of the year that we've made the 10 million pound mark from food that's donated from NY farmers to those of us that are at need," he said.

The donation program was spearheaded by the state Young Farmer and Rancher Committee. Millennials aren't usually associated with agriculture, but that's something Nicole Rawleigh would like to change.

"We aren't what maybe the public thinks of as typical farmers so when they see young people out farming, it gives it a different perspective and we’re able to relate to the public," Rawleigh.

Rawleigh is the chair of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. She says young people better known for their tech skills will become invaluable to the future of the industry, as challenges like less available land and labor increase the need for efficiency.

She also says she’s seen young farmers bring an especially charitable spirit to farming, through community outreach, education, and programs like "Harvest for All."

Bureau President Norton says he’s proud of the young farmers’ enthusiasm.

"They enjoy this opportunity to do this every year. It's not something that they dread, they enjoy the opportunity to get out and help the underserved."

Leaders of the Young Farmers Committee, as well as other farmers from across the state, will spend the next few days in Rochester discussing and voting on agricultural policy.

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