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New York becomes nation's largest yogurt maker

New York state has surpassed California as the nation’s largest yogurt maker, state figures show.

Plants in New York produced 692 million pounds of yogurt last year compared with 587 million in California. In 2011, the Empire State produced 554 million pounds of yogurt to the Golden State’s 627 million, according to statistics from producers compiled by both state’s agriculture departments.

In New York, yogurt production has tripled in the past five years and milk production has grown by more than 1 billion pounds, largely because of the popularity of Greek-style yogurt, such as Chobani and Fage. The state was the No. 4 milk producer in the country last year.

The administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has encouraged yogurt production to boost the upstate economy. Cuomo held a “summit” in the state Capitol last year to hear from industry leaders about ways government can help them. Toward that end, he announced this week a couple of regulatory initiatives to assist small dairy farms in expanding their herds.

“The fact that New York state is now, for the first time ever, the nation’s leader in yogurt production demonstrates that our efforts to open the state’s doors to business and grow the private sector are truly working,” Cuomo said.

The number of yogurt processing plants has climbed from 14 to 27 since 2000.

The regulatory changes “will help dairy farms expand their operations and ensure that New York maintains its standing as the Silicon Valley of Yogurt” said Darrel Aubertine, state agriculture commissioner and a dairy farmer from upstate Cape Vincent.

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