Dairy day at the New York State Fair

These ladies sure seem ready for Dairy Day! Photo: David Sommerstein.

These ladies sure seem ready for Dairy Day! Photo: David Sommerstein.

Want to watch celebrities milk a cow? Sample the excitement as media personalities concoct the tastiest milkshake? You can witness a calve being born, see the butter sculpture contest, watch the dairy day parade, and then wash it all down with a 25 cent glass of the freshest white stuff (not snow).

Hustle over to Syracuse because today is dairy day at the Great New York State Fair! The NYS Dairy Princess, Courtney Luskin, will be there.

It's a really fun looking schedule that I wish I could enjoy, but alas… Maybe next year.

The Watertown Daily Times' Ted Booker has used the occasion for some important reporting about the darker side of New York's dairy industry – the hundreds of undocumented Latino employees working on the state's dairy farms and their insecure status. The story quotes testimony from an anonymous dairy farmworker, gathered by the Workers Center of Central NY, about conditions on a farm in Lewis County:

“What is happening to us is alarming,” the worker said in a news release. “Imagine eight or nine people living in a small trailer. Many times, workers have to sleep on the floor because our employers do not even care that we lack a bed to rest in after 12-hour shifts. The housing is in such bad condition, with cockroaches and bed bugs. Basically, my health is at risk here.”

The worker continued, “I want to call on consumers to think about the product they take home from the grocery store. Ask yourself under what conditions the milk is being produced.”

The article also quotes dairy farm representatives who say these kind of abuses are anomalies. Both sides are calling for passage of immigration reform as crafted by the U.S. Senate.

The farmworker advocates are rallying today outside the gates of the State Fair.

So folks, on this symbolic day for one of New York's biggest industries, what else should we be talking about? What's the state of New York dairy?

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