County dairy farmers could see rise in demand when state implements plans to buy local
Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 5:32 pm

St. Lawrence County dairy farmers should see a rise in demand for their products when the state implements plans to use more New York State farm products.

“Eating local matters. Last year, I was surprised to find that the dining rooms here in the Empire State Plaza and the state office complex, which serve 40,000 workers and visitors every day, were serving milk from Texas,” state Sen. Patty Ritchie, a Republican from Heuvelton, told more than 100 farmers and supporters recently at the “No Farms, No Food” rally at the state capital. The annual event aims to call attention to challenges facing New York farmers.

She said the state Office of General Services, at her request, is reviewing state food service contracts to include provisions to increase the use of New York grown food products. The request was prompted by her discovery that state lunch rooms were serving milk that was processed in Texas.

Ritchie represents one of the largest dairy-producing regions in the state, the 48th District, which includes Oswego and Jefferson counties and the western half of St. Lawrence County.

Ritchie, who also chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, is the cosponsor of the “Buy From The Backyard Act” which passed the Senate unanimously last year. The measure requires the Office of General Services (OGS) and other state agencies to buy 20 percent of all their food products from producers and processors in New York State.

“New York State is home to over 36,000 family farms that generate over $5 billion in economic activity,” Ritchie said. “If we can convince state colleges, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and other state agencies to buy more New York produced milk and other farm products, we can help our existing farm businesses grow and expand.”