Dairy Is Where It’s At

by Kimberly Hickok

For personal and philosophical reasons I am a proud and unabashed supporter of the dairy industry. I love all things dairy especially cheese, Greek yogurt and butter.  I recently had the opportunity to spend a beautiful weekend in New York’s Finger Lakes courtesy of the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council (ADADC). Their mission? To economically benefit dairy farmers by encouraging the consumption of milk and dairy products through advertising, education and promotion reaching consumers with product benefits and advantages.

A portion of every dairy farmer’s milk check goes to the ADADC. So whether you prefer to enjoy dairy products that are organic – or not – you and your family are supporting dairy farmers and their families.

One thing I really enjoyed was a tour of Cornell University’s Stocking Hall which houses its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) program. I learned so much about New York’s dairy industry. I had no idea that New York is number one in Greek yogurt production or that its 5,400 dairy farms produce over 1.6 billion gallons of milk which contribute over  $2.5 billion in sales to the state’s economy.

One on-farm job is created for every 40-50 cows added to a dairy farm. In 2011, for every new job created on a dairy farm, an additional 1.42 jobs were created in the local community. And for every job created in the dairy processing industry, 6.60 jobs are created upstream, making it one of the highest multipliers in the state.

Source: Governor Cuomo Hosts First New York State Yogurt Summit (August 15, 2012), the Department of Animal Science, and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

But as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Geneva on the Lake

We had wonderful accommodations at Geneva on the Lake in Geneva, NY. In this photo my back is to the lake. Doesn’t it look like an Italian villa?


Located right on Seneca Lake, this photo shows the view of the lake.

Kim - Cornell

We started our tour in CALS’ test kitchen where we sampled blackberry ice cream, frozen yogurt and a 50/50 ice cream/yogurt mix.

Next we headed to the milk processing facility located right in Cornell's Stocking Hall. They weren't processing that day but the facility was still very impressive.

Next we headed to the milk processing facility located right in Cornell’s Stocking Hall. They weren’t processing that day but the facility was still very impressive.

Cornell - yogurt demo

I just love Greek yogurt and we got a full demo and lesson on what makes yogurt, well yogurt. Interesting fact: 70% of Greek yogurt production is whey so producing Greek yogurt requires a LOT of milk.

Cornell's dairy barn is designed to maintain optimal temperature for the cows.

Cornell’s dairy barn is designed to maintain optimal temperature for the cows. (photo courtesy of ADADC)

Cornell - cows

Off to Cornell’s dairy barn. Cow comfort is the main goal here. These gals are laying on beds of sand. A comfortable cow is a more productive cow. Who knew?

Cornell - cow back scratcher

Speaking of cow comfort – I loved this! The cows can access a ‘back scratcher’ whenever they want. It stays immobile until a cow approaches and nudges it. Then the cow can maneuver its way around it. Cool!

We ended our day back at Geneva on the Lake enjoying a cheese and wine pairing featuring  Muranda Cheese and Anthony Road Wine followed by a fabulous gourmet dinner.

I learned an awful lot that I’d gladly share with you. Any questions for me? Put them in the comment section and I’ll answer them.

*For the record, ADADC provided the accommodations and covered my traveling expenses for the NY Dairy Farm Tour. Other than that I am not employed or affiliated with the ADADC in any other way.*

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