Wyoming County, New York, ranked 32nd nationwide in milk production in 2011, reaching 1 billion gallons annually. And the booming yogurt market could mean a lot more business for its farms. A project called the Wyoming County Agriculture Business Center of Excellence is underway, intended to consolidate numerous county and related agencies into a single location. The hope is that the center will create new opportunities for the county’s large agriculture and dairy industries, as the Alpina and Project Wave yogurt plants become operational in Batavia.

The project is outlined in a proposal by William Maddison. He’s the former Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County director who was a driving force behind the Wyoming County Dairy Institute.

Described as “a unique public-private alliance,” the Center of Excellence would relocate 12 agriculture and county development agencies to the old Brown Knitting Company building.

The location will provide “one-stop shopping” including education and training; agribusiness retention and expansion; economic development assistance; entrepreneurship development; and the FastTrac New Ventures program.

Traditional agricultural support services would also be available in the building.


Officials are hoping the greater efficiencies will help foster even more dairy growth within the county, while helping meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vision for a 15 percent increase in dairy production statewide.

“What drove all of this is the fact the yogurt plants are being built more closely to us, and the need for 15 percent more product, along with how are we going to provide that?” said Chairman Douglas Berwanger of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors.

“Dairy agriculture is smart business for a county because in terms of both input and output dollars, the majority of the money goes back to the local economies through the purchase of dairy supplies, equipment, concentrates, fertilizer, seeds, etc.” the report reads.

The document estimates the county’s dairies will create about $200 million in direct sales back to the producers. It also maintains additional jobs are created, for each new job created on local farms.

Increasing Wyoming County’s production by 15 percent means 150 million pounds of additional milk will be needed — which works out to 150 new on-farm workers to meet the resulting demand.

That would create 58 new jobs in the non-dairy sector, according to the report. It also notes that every 1,000-cow operation has a $13.7 million economic impact on the surrounding community.

A concrete timeline for the completion of the center still isn’t available, as officials try to line up funding. The consolidation may happen in phases, with the county’s agencies moving in first, possibly in late 2013.

A tentative budget estimates build-out costs will be approximately $2.1 million for the first phase, including a new roof, facade restorations, interior renovations, and other improvements. The second phase would cost about $1.4 million, but the estimates are still being refined.

List of participating agencies
If everything goes as planned, a variety of agricultural and development agencies would be housed in the Wyoming County Agriculture and Business Center of Excellence.

A full list includes the Cornell Cooperative Extension; the Wyoming County Soil & Water Conservation District; the USDA Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Cornell University’s Milk Production Services.

Local agencies would include the Wyoming County Business Center; the Business Education Council; the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism; the Wyoming County Industrial Development Agency; and the Business Development Center. PD

—From The Daily News (Click here to read the full article.)