New York cows are happy to be heard

Every so often, a TV commercial airs in the Capital Region depicting talking cows from California te
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Every so often, a TV commercial airs in the Capital Region depicting talking cows from California telling everybody how happy they are.

Today, farmers in New York are pitching their own message in a new campaign that includes TV ads and billboards to let people know New York cows are happy, too.

The effort focuses on bringing attention to the contribution dairy farmers make to people’s lives and to the environment, said Julie R. Berry, agricultural outreach coordinator for the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, a nonprofit organization created by farmers in the state’s Finger Lakes region.

“Farmers are so involved in farming and taking care of their animals that outreach sometimes isn’t on the top of the list,” Berry said.

There’s been little if any outreach effort made by New York farmers, and Berry said some are growing concerned about making sure their work is portrayed accurately.

The effort is supported by several agencies, including the Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Cayuga Marketing and the New York Farm Bureau.

New York Farm Bureau spokesman Peter Gregg said he believes the marketing effort is the most organized he’s seen since the nationwide “Got Milk?” campaign.

“Certainly, the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign was extremely effective. This is more promoting the whole dairy industry here in New York,” Gregg said.

“It’s something that is going to be real beneficial, just to boost the image of our industry and just to remind consumers how big the industry is here in the state,” Gregg said.

About 6,200 New York dairy farmers produce more than $2 billion in milk sales annually and provide dairy products to about 25 million people on the East Coast, according to the state Agriculture and Markets Department.

The timing for the public service announcements comes when dairy farmers are struggling to keep their businesses afloat, Gregg said.

“The dairy industry right now is struggling through a milk pricing crisis, the worst, perhaps, we’ve ever seen,” Gregg said.

Farmers are earning about half as much money for their milk as they were last summer, Gregg said. “It’s a very difficult time for the dairy.”

Farmers got their message together, and filming was done last year before the most recent financial trouble in milk prices began, Berry said.

“They have been saving and putting money toward this for a couple of years,” Berry said.

“For us to be able to roll it out now is kind of heartening for farmers,” she said.

Berry said in addition to television ads, billboards in the Capital Region will be visible at the intersection of Routes 9 and 20 in Albany County and on Route 9 in Saratoga.

More information on the effort, as well as video clips of the new TV ads, can be found at www.farmskeepnygreen.org.

Categories: Schenectady County

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