Byrne Dairy hopes to build a yogurt plant and visitor center on a 127 acre site in the Cortland County town of Cortlandville. The site is off of Route 13 in the Finger Lakes East Business Park.Cortland County dairy farmer Mark Rienhart has been watching the costs of running his farm go up - but the price for his milk has stayed the same. Growing demand for yogurt products has helped. Rienhart hopes a Byrne Dairy's proposed 127 acre yogurt facility in Cortlandville comes through - and that milk from his cows will be needed.
"Anytime you have another processing plant that will use local milk, hopefully that will translate into increased prices for the farmers," said Rienhart.
Byrne Dairy says the facility could bring 80 jobs at first and potentially hundreds more in the future. The company also wants to build a visitor center as part of an agritourism site.
"If you're going to be in the dairy business and you're going to be in the business of making dairy products, you're going to need to be in the yogurt business in this country. consumption is going up, it's portable, it's healthy and people enjoy eating it," said Byrne Dairy CEO Carl Byrne.
Byrne Dairy is still waiting for site approval and says they will need local incentives and funding assistance from New York state to move forward. Garry VanGorder from Cortland County's Industrial Development Agency is optimistic that the state will support the yogurt facility.
"As you know, the governor is very supportive of yogurt development in New York State. The yogurt summit recently underscored that. And so the timing for Byrne Dairy couldn't be better," said VanGorder.
Farmers like Reinhart hope the demand for yogurt - and their milk - stays strong.
"It has taken off and I don't think anybody would have thought five years ago that it would have taken off like it has," said Rienhart.
If Byrne Dairy receives the incentives they are asking for, the could start construction on the yogurt facility next year.
Byrne Dairy currently operates a ice cream and milk plants in Syracuse, an Ultra Dairy plant in East Syracuse, and 54 convenience stores in central and western New York.