NY’s selection for school Greek yogurt pilot plan could mean more demand for St. Lawrence County’s milk
Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 5:28 pm

St. Lawrence County dairy farmers will likely benefit from New York’s selection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a test site for Greek-style yogurt in federally subsidized school lunches.

New York was chosen as one of four states where the popularity of Greek yogurt in school lunches will be tested, according to Congressman Bill Owens.

Owens represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes St. Lawrence County.

“I am pleased the USDA selected New York as a pilot state for offering Greek Yogurt as a protein option in school lunches,” said Owens. “This is great news for children, who will have a healthy and affordable new choice in the cafeteria and great news for the region’s dairy farmers who play a vital role in our region’s economy. I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot study.”

Greek yogurt uses as much as twice the milk per serving as regular yogurt, so school lunches that use Greek yogurt will lead to an increase in the demand for milk.

In 2012, the New York Times reported that Greek yogurt helped grow the state’s yogurt production by 60 percent and created nearly 1,300 jobs for New Yorkers. To meet the increased demand, dairy farmers will need to increase milk production an estimated 15 percent by the end of next year, according to Owens.

The decision follows the USDA’s announcement in January that Greek yogurt would be tested as a protein option in federally subsidized school lunches. Beginning in September, schools participating in the federally subsidized school lunch programs in New York, Arizona, Idaho and Tennessee will be allowed to count Greek yogurt served in school lunches towards the protein requirement.