NY pledges steps to boost yogurt production

Sen. Charles Schumer said Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014,

Sen. Charles Schumer said Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, that a shipment of Chobani yogurt, made in New York, is being held up at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey because of "unattainable" Russian Customs certifications (Credit: AP)

State officials are promising steps to help cut regulations and costs for farmers and producers to capitalize on a national boom in Greek-style yogurt.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a "yogurt summit" in Albany Wednesday with farmers and industry executives he'll pursue easing an environmental regulation to help smaller dairy farms grow, seek ways to help farms get lower-cost energy, and help farmers sell energy back to the power grid.

State officials also are working to persuade The Hain Celestial Group Inc., based in Melville, to shift some production of its The Greek Gods yogurt upstate. The division is based in Washington state.

In May, Hain committed to keeping its headquarters on Long Island in return for $4.5 million in state tax breaks and a 16-year property tax break from Nassau County. The company plans to move to 1111 Marcus Ave. in Lake Success, once home to the United Nations.

At a May 23 ceremony at the building, Hain chief executive Irwin D. Simon told Newsday he was open to manufacturing in New York State, but did not specifically mention yogurt. Hain is mulling a proposal from Nassau to encourage potato growing on county land for use in Hain's popular Terra Chips brand.

A state official, who requested anonymity, said in May that they hoped the success of other yogurt companies upstate would spur interest by Hain. The Greek Gods yogurt was launched in Seattle in 2003 and purchased by Hain in 2010.

At Cuomo's summit, department heads and more than 50 farmers and yogurt makers discussed the business.

Chobani, the national leader in Greek yogurt, is headquartered in Chenango County.

With The Associated Press

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