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Agriculture grows in economic development plans

WBFO News file photo

From a statewide view, the most visible pieces of Governor Cuomo's regional economic development councils revolve around computer chip manufacturing and medical research. But the most visible local result of the councils right now is the high-tech conversion of milk into Greek yogurt.

While there are all kinds of high-tech proposals in the plans for the regional councils, there are also items like improving the railroad connections to the Milk-Bone plant on Buffalo's east side so that will remain the only plant making the dog treat.

In Batavia, one Greek yogurt plant is gearing up for production and a far larger plant across the street is under construction.

Not far from a plant making computer chips in Albany, the Capital District regional council is recommending construction of a distribution hub to speed food shipments from the farm to the consumer.

Local Regional Economic Development President Sam Hoyt says improving distribution is a key factor in helping farming and possibly creating jobs.

"We're so centrally located in terms of population centers within the region," Hoyt said.

"Now, when you are talking about a perishable product, a vegetable, for instance, you've got to get that on the shelf quickly and within a certain period of time or it's a wasted product."

Hoyt says he recently met with Florida food shippers about using this area for quick distribution of processed foods.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.