POLITICS: PennAve

It’s all Greek (yogurt) to Chuck Schumer

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Beltway Confidential,Education,Food and Drink,Agriculture,New York,PennAve,Chuck Schumer,Sean Lengell

The federal government wants kids to eat more Greek yogurt, and Sen. Charles Schumer couldn’t be happier.

The USDA on Monday announced that the Democrat’s home state, New York, along with Tennessee, Arizona and Idaho, had been selected for a pilot program in which the federal government will subsidize school districts to buy Greek yogurt for their lunch programs.

The Greek yogurt industry is booming in United States. And because New York is home to some of the biggest producers of the thick milk byproduct, Schumer had pressed the USDA for the pilot program.

“Starting this school year, students across the state will be balancing New York-made Greek yogurt on their lunch trays,” Schumer said. “I am proud to see this pilot plan reach this final step, because it’s a boon for New York yogurt and dairy industries, and it’s beneficial for the health of our kids.”

The one-year pilot program is designed to test the cost-effectiveness of USDA purchasing Greek yogurt on behalf of schools operating the National School Lunch Program. If deemed successful, it could go nationwide.

New York’s Democratic junior Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also praised the pilot program. And Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents central New York — a large dairy area — called it “win” students and a “big step forward for our Greek yogurt industry and the dairy farms that support it.”

Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, whose home state of Idaho also is a major Greek yogurt producer, praised the USDA for helping promote “one of the country’s fastest growing industries.”

But Schumer’s political muscle is considered the driving force behind the program. He has long-fought to make New York the Greek yogurt capital of the United States, pushing for federal investments in production facilities and federal assistance to dairy farmers to increase milk production to meet the increased demand from Greek yogurt. And he’s worked with New York companies Chobani, Fage, Alpina and Muller Quaker on advancing the product’s popularity and availability.

 

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