September 27, 2023

June is National Dairy Month — and it has been very busy with lots of activities here in Oneida County.

On June 1, the Oneida County Farm Bureau kicked off the month-long celebration with the unveiling of a life-size Brown Swiss milking cow made of plastic, fiberglass and rubber. The creation will help show people how to milk a cow and also help promote the dairy industry in the county.

At this time, her name is number 18001 — because there are approximately 18,000 cows in Oneida County. There is currently a contest going on to give her a name, so be on the lookout for paper ballots as part of the contest.

On June 2, the annual Farm Fest was hosted by DiNitto Farms in Marcy. During the day, they hosted many elementary students from various schools throughout the region. The State Agriculture Commissioner, Richard Ball, attended and presented a proclamation that June is Dairy Month in New York to fest coordinator Terri DiNitto.

On June 6, Finndale Farms of Holland Patent hosted 190 kindergarten children from area school districts, and then on June 16, 90 eighth-grade students came to enjoy tours to learn what it takes to feed, care for and milk 850 cows and 850 heifers to produce a high volume of high-quality milk.

Among the highlights was that Farmer Ben narrated hay rides and the students got to experience the birth of a couple brand new baby calves, including one that was breached.

On June 14, at a meeting of the Oneida County Board of Legislators, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. presented a proclamation that June is Dairy Month in Oneida County to Dairy Ambassador Ella Larry from Floyd. On June 26, there was a ribbon cutting/open house with a tour of the facility called Copper City Meats, formerly the Gold Metal Packing facility, in Marcy. The event included the businesses new owners and managers and was well received, with many area farmers and elected officials in attendance.

Their business plan is to buy and process local cows, calves, pigs and sheep that are conventionally and organically certified, as well as certified grass-fed. The business is both a USDA-inspected site as well as a certified organic facility. It is the largest processing facility in New York and the Northeast.

Also, throughout the month, many local schools have participated in a “drive your tractor to school day” to help highlight the importance of agriculture and celebrate those youngsters who live or work on family and/or local farms.

Lastly, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol and Farmer Ben have been on a road show attending schools to educate young drivers about the safety of driving on our rural roads and the use of Slow Moving Vehicles (SMV) signs. These signs are important reminders for drivers of all ages that they share rural roads with a variety of other vehicles — and to be on the lookout for slow-moving farm vehicles to help prevent accidents and injuries.

Agriculture is alive and well here in Oneida County — and as the month’s activities help to show, dairy farming is the largest segment of agriculture in Oneida County and certainly worth celebrating. 

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