September 3, 2013

Sen. Schumer to Forge Ties Between Cornell Dairy, Government

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During a tour Tuesday of Cornell’s Stocking Hall, the new home to a food science facility and the reopened Dairy Bar, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to help Cornell become the site of the nation’s first dairy food safety center.

Schumer, who hopes to urge the federal government to bolster its partnerships with the University, said a dairy food safety center would provide a platform for an upstate N.Y. dairy and food region initiative: a project that would stimulate growth in dairy and food industries in the state.

Schumer, joined by Cornell administrators, local elected officials, faculty and dairy industry partners, said such an establishment would bring Cornell’s research to a national stage, increase the amount of funding received by the University and create new economic opportunities within the state.

Ithaca would be an ideal location for a national dairy food safety center because both Cornell and upstate New York have a reputation for being leaders in the dairy industry, according to Schumer.

The recent $105 million renovation of Stocking Hall, coupled with strong industry support for dairy programming from companies like Wegmans, are only two of many qualities that make Cornell’s dairy program unparalleled by programs at other universities, Schumer said.

“Dairy safety is a very serious issue,” Schumer said. “The number of people who get ill and die from food safety products is declining, particularly from products produced in America. I believe that it is time we have a national one-stop-shop for dairy farmers to turn to when it comes to accessing top notch information, resources and training when it comes to safety.”

The creation of a dairy food safety center would not only improve the health of dairy consumers, but also the health of New York’s economy, according to both Schumer and University officials.

Kathryn Boor, dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the dairy industry — which was responsible for about $2.6 billion in revenue in 2012 and thousands of jobs in New York State — is the backbone of state’s agricultural industry.

“Based on estimates from Cornell, jobs in the dairy industry have a multiplier of 5.6, suggesting that the 8,000 jobs in dairy manufacturing in New York create approximately 45,000 additional jobs in surrounding communities that support or augment the industry as a whole,” Boor said in a proposed outline of the Cornell University dairy food safety center distributed at the event.

If Cornell becomes the site of the first national dairy food safety center and Ithaca gains the ability to produce top-notch dairy products with an exceptional safety record, upstate New York may be able to break into export markets, Boor said.

Access to such export markets, she added, would create another 500 jobs over five years. This expansion of the economy would also stimulate job growth in lab and field services, dairy research and development and the production of food safety equipment and supplies.

Before officials begin planning the construction of a national dairy food safety center in Ithaca, Schumer must convince both the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to forge an alliance with Cornell for dairy and food safety research.

Schumer said that another challenge associated with the plan to create a national dairy food safety center is obtaining qualified labor. He expects that changes in immigration reform, which he has worked with other Senators to devise, will be a solution to this problem.

Officials could not confirm an exact number for how much the project is estimated to cost, but assured that it would not be higher than “tens of millions.”

Original Author: Alexa Davis

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