New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today, during Dairy Month, announced that the Department has launched a workforce development resource guide to help connect young people and those interested in a career in the dairy industry. The resource guide is part of an initiative by the New York State Dairy Think Tank to streamline workforce development efforts and better connect workers to employers. The dairy industry is the largest segment of New York’s agricultural sector and a significant driver of the New York economy.
Commissioner Ball said, “The dairy industry is a powerhouse of New York’s economy, creating thousands of local jobs while fueling our communities statewide. Resources like this catalog and the Dairy Think Tank will help our dairy farmers and processors attract and retain great employees to produce the milk and variety of dairy foods that make New York a leading dairy state. I’m excited to continue working with our partners in the dairy industry and with our fellow state agencies to ensure that New York dairy remains a pillar of our agricultural industry.”
The Dairy Think Tank was created in 2020 at the advice of the Milk Marketing Advisory Council to bring together leaders in the industry, including representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Department of Labor, and Empire State Development, to discuss the current challenges facing the dairy industry and the industry’s future. The Dairy Think Tank identified workforce development as one of its top priorities, along with government partnership, branding and marketing, and industry support.
As part of these efforts, the Dairy Think Tank created a central resource guide – the Catalog of New York State Workforce Development Pipelines for the Dairy Industry – containing information about dairy-related workforce development programs, career opportunities, and funding streams available within the State. This central resource provides dairy farms and dairy processing plants with programs and opportunities to better connect with and train future employees, including school-based programs that introduce youth to the dairy industry. In addition, the catalog can also be utilized by jobseekers to help identify the career pathways that are available for those who are skilled or those who have no prior agricultural or food manufacturing training.
Additionally, the Dairy Think Tank partnered with the Department of Labor to create a series of videos highlighting “Cool Jobs in Dairy,” which showcase the wide range of exciting and fulfilling career opportunities in the New York dairy industry, including production, processing, and distribution. The Department also launched a Dairy Career Page, which provides information about working in the dairy industry, job opportunities, and resources for agricultural workers.
The efforts of the Dairy Think Tank build on the state’s ongoing workforce development initiatives. During her 2023 State of the State Address, Governor Kathy Hochul pledged to build a strong agricultural workforce pipeline. As part of that commitment, the FY 2024 Budget invested over $1 million to help the Department partner with key workforce experts, industry stakeholders, and educational institutions to devise a “Whole Systems Approach to Agriculture Workforce Development,” to grow and develop a pipeline that recruits new job seekers, advances existing employees and connects migrant individuals and asylum seekers to the food and agricultural sectors through the following four key pillars: career engagers, career starters, career builders, and career advancers.
About the Dairy Industry in New York State
New York’s dairy industry is a critical sector of the state’s economy and as its leading agricultural sector, dairy accounts for approximately one-half of New York’s total agricultural income. New York State has nearly 3,200 dairy producers that produce over 15.7 billion pounds of milk annually, making New York the nation’s fifth largest dairy state. New York’s unique and talented dairy producers and nearly 300 world-recognized processors provide significant contributions to New York’s agriculture industry, the economy, and to the health of our communities.