We are glad to see New York state officials have acquired a taste for promoting Greek-style yogurt. Our area could be set to reap benefits from the state's efforts.
State officials' "yogurt summit" Wednesday highlighted the interest in making sure the state allows dairy farms and Greek-style yogurt producers to expand. Officials plan to change regulations to allow small farms to more easily increase their herd sizes and expand milk production. The state is also looking to lower dairy's energy costs by making it easier for farmers to use anaerobic digesters, which turn waste produced on the farm into energy.
Over about the last decade, there has been something of a Greek-style yogurt boom. Since 2000, the number of yogurt processing plants in New York has increased from 14 to 29. From 2005 to 2011, the yogurt plants doubled in production. Over that same time period, the amount of milk used to make yogurt in New York went from 158 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds.
There already is one major Greek-style yogurt producer, Fage USA, in Johnstown. The company wants to break ground this summer to build a $120 million expansion at its Johnstown Industrial Park factory.
More yogurt production should lead to a positive effect on the local economy, given the milk and water needed to make the product. Considering our area's steady supply of both water and dairy farms, we wouldn't be surprised if more yogurt manufacturers moved here.
State officials are on the right path in encouraging the growing yogurt industry to do business in New York.