KENT FUCHS: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for joining us. My name is Kent Fuchs, and I service Cornell's provost. And I'm honored here to serve on behalf of Cornell and also represent David Skorton, our president, who is out of town today. We all welcome our senator, Charles Schumer, to campus and also to this newly renovated Stocking Hall. Earlier this year, the senator visited our new Cornell NYC tech campus in Manhattan, and I know he's also been to the Geneva experiment station, to the Weill Cornell Medical College campus, as well as many other meetings here on campus in Ithaca.
The senator joins us this afternoon to share his vision for an exciting new proposal that we believe will mark a milestone in the advancement of dairy product safety and quality for American consumers. It's apt that we are gathered here in this brand new state of the art facility that represents $105 million investment by the state of New York through SUNY in the future of dairy, food science teaching, research, and extension. We're tremendously proud of the important role that Cornell has played in the support of our state's thriving dairy sector, and we're eager to see those contributions magnified throughout our region and, indeed, across the country.
Cornell has had a long history of serving as an engine for scientific innovation, economic prosperity in New York and, indeed, across the country, and we believe that the senator's proposal builds upon that foundation in a way that will further secure the wholesomeness of US dairy products and result in a healthier, more vibrant dairy industry in New York. I'd like to thank the senator on behalf of the entire university for support of Cornell and for the faith he has shown in the expertise of our dairy and food safety faculty and extension personnel. I'd also like to thank the people that are here today representing the food science department, whose hard work and dedication has made Cornell an internationally recognized center of excellence for food safety, food science, research, and extension education. Thank you, and I'd now like to welcome to the podium our senator, Senator Schumer.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, thank you. It's great to be here. I want to thank Provost Fuchs and Kathryn Boor, your wonderful dean, as well as so many people from the university. I'll make a couple of points somewhat related. First, I love Cornell. I had my first true girlfriend when I spent a summer taking biology. I lived at 202-- when I was in high school and it was my first time away from home. I lived at 202 South Baker Hall. I roomed with another New Yorker from Middletown, New York, and we have been close friends, best friends for-- oh I hate to say how many years. It was 1966, so you can figure that out. Even though we're not in math department here, I'm sure you can figure that out for yourselves.
So I love Cornell. You're so important in every way to our state and Tompkins County, where Cornell is the economic engine-- is one of the fastest growing job producers in the entire-- not just in New York state, but in the entire east, so that's a tribute to you. I also care a lot about dairy. I'll say two interesting-- I think they're interesting. First, I come from Brooklyn, New York. We have no farms in Brooklyn, but although Mrs. Pagliarini grew corn in her backyard, and I used to go over and visit, but I have made agriculture, since it's such an important industry, one of the most important things I've done as senator. And what made me think of this is I see that beautiful Holstein cow right there, and calf, and I was designated by the New York State Farm Bureau their person of the year. And when they did it, they called me the Brooklyn farmer, and they gave me a map of Brooklyn with a Holstein cow standing on it. And it reminds me of one other story which I'll tell.
So the first time I was on a dairy farm I was just a new senator, and Senator Clinton who is my colleague and is my friend, was then first lady considering whether to run for the Senate. And I am on the Dueppengiesser farm milking 900 cows. You've heard of it-- over in Wyoming County. And they're showing me the modern methods of dairy farming, and they have a milk shed, 24 stalls, constantly in motion. They march the cows in. They milk them and march them out. They're in all the time.
And so I began to think, and I said, gee whiz, 900 milking cows. There must be a lot of bulls. So I said to Mr. Dueppengiesser, where are the bowls? And he said to me-- he laughed. He said we don't do it that way anymore. We do it by artificial insemination. Probably some of the work done here helps make that work, and he showed me the little device by which the cow is inseminated.
A few minutes later, Hillary calls, and I say, Hillary, you have to run. This is so much fun. You learn so much. I'm on the Dueppengiesser farm, and guess what? They have 900 cows they're milking. I think now he's up to about 2000. Yeah, but I said they have about 900 cows they're milking, and they're in the milk shed. And they march them in and march them out, and I ask them where are the bulls? And guess what? They don't do it that way anymore. They do it by artificial insemination. He showed me the little device. She said without batting an eye, the cows never have fun anymore.
Anyway, it's good to be here with all of you and to talk about something exciting that will advance our dairy industry. Our dairy industry is one of the fastest growing industries in New York. When I took office in the Senate in 1999, both the number of dairy farms and the number of cows milked was declining and that's both been reversed. Number of dairy farms is static and even up a little. The number of cows is dramatically up. Farms are getting somewhat larger.
And of course, something that I've been a champion of-- our Greek yogurt industry is helping our farms all over the place. We are sort of the center of Greek yogurt. It's become very popular, and it's a new market for our dairy, for our milk. We have about 5,000 dairy producing farms, most of which are still small or medium sized. They produce about 13 billion pounds of milk. That yields about $2.6 billion a year-- billion. That is a huge industry, and the economic impact of these farmers is hard to calculate.
In wages alone, they pay about $197 million in wages to people. That goes right back into the economy, but they put lots more. Each dairy farm is a business, and they support all kinds of other businesses, whether it's farm machinery, or mechanics, or everything-- you name it-- under the sun. And so we still have challenges in our dairy industry. At the top of the list is getting qualified labor, and that's why I've worked so hard to pass an immigration bill, comprehensive immigration reform, and--
We're working on that, but one of the areas where we are looking for constant improvement is safety. Dairy farms, particularly the smaller ones, have-- they have to put plenty of money in for dairy safety. It's a very serious issue, and research in food safety is always changing. We're getting better and better at it. The number of people who get ill and even die from food safety problems is declining, particularly when it comes to products produced in America. So I believe that it's time we had a national one stop shop for dairy farmers to turn to when it comes to accessing top notch information, resources, and training when it comes to safety.
The federal government has always been involved in food safety and should be involved again, so we should be having a national dairy hub that should provide federal resources and grants to become-- so that our dairy farmers can meet the highest safety standards. Now, we do have some food safety centers of excellence in other areas, but we don't in dairy, and today I'm suggesting and going to put my efforts into making Cornell the national center for dairy safety in America.
And I don't do that just randomly. You've already done so much good work here. Last year, 656 farmers attended dairy food workshops. 13,000 hours were done here at Stocking Hall, which I learned was named after one of your great professors, and I'm glad it was named after a professor. They deserve a lot of the credit. I don't-- is Mr. Stocking still around. Oh, sorry. Is he recently passed? No. Well, OK.
Well, Mr. Stocking, thank you for all your good work-- Professor Stocking-- but it's a state of the art processing plant used for training and research. So Cornell is an essential cog in our upstate agriculture industry-- Cornell co-op, everywhere I go, does an amazing job. They're the most knowledgeable, and they're nice. I don't know if you have a niceness class, but they're not only very smart, but they're really nice, and the farmers love them and need them, particularly in a state where we don't have huge agribusiness, although we have more and more of that, but rather smaller farms. They're essential.
And so Cornell is the essential cog in the wheel of our upstate agriculture industry, and now we can take all the good work you do in New York state and spread it on a much more national level. So that's what I am here to do. Just to give you an-- my great person who runs our southern tier office, Amanda [INAUDIBLE]. He gave some interesting little statistics here. This is how important food safety is. Listen to these-- and how important dairy is.
Each time someone gets sick from food borne illness, it costs an average of $1,800. One out of six people in the US each year suffers some kind of foodborne illness. Of that number, about 128,000 are hospitalized. 3,000 actually die from these ailments. So that's on the one side.
On the other side, here our industry is growing. 900 new jobs have been created in the last few years in dairy, in dairy food processing, and in the last few years, 150 new licensed dairy processing facilities were added in New York state. So on the one hand, the industry is growing. On the other hand, the need for safety is great. And finally, Cornell is the place not only in New York state, but I would say in the country for this.
So let me give you some details. The FDA and the US Department of Agriculture sponsor food safety programs and initiatives across the country. The facility here-- what we would do here at Cornell is create a partnership, as I said, to make us the national center on dairy safety. It would facilitate joint research ventures between the federal government and Cornell. It would see that Cornell's groundbreaking research is brought much more quickly to the national stage, and the federal regulators who set standards for dairy safety techniques and best practices could learn a thing or two from all of you. So it would be good for the whole country.
This university is already de facto the world center-- or the national center of national excellence in training dairy safety. And New York-- we have a very good record for safety in the dairy industry, and so we can expand that hub. And then a second part of this-- once we become the national center for excellence-- is we can increase the number of grants and sources of funding to support the kind of important research that you do. An example of the types of funding opportunities among FDA, USDA, and Cornell-- some of the folks right here have submitted a proposal for federal funding in response to an FDA grant program to encourage training for examination, inspection, investigation in food manufacturing. This would be the dairy side of it. Cornell submitted an application which would promote preventative dairy food safety behaviors by creating standardized training in the curriculum for New York state dairy inspectors. Very important, and we're learning that, when you standardize things to best practices, you really improve things.
Some people say, well, let everybody do their own thing, sort of like we learned with hip replacements. It's the same thing if you've read that article in The New Yorker. Standardizing best practices makes a great deal of sense, and you're doing that. Well, those two things alone-- if we could get those grants and expand them nationally-- would do a huge amount in terms of promoting dairy safety. And so we want this to happen. I just wanted to mention you're doing so much. You're great.
Cornell is working now with Wegmans, one of the most progressive, fastest growing supermarkets in the United States, and they own their very own aging cave, where they help train farmers in cheese production and aging. And then Wegmans buys it and sells it. So there's so much that could be done, and I'm excited at the chance to do it. So this would create great economic growth for upstate, and it begins right here at Cornell.
So I've come here today to pledge to you that I'm going to put my muscle to make this happen-- national center of excellence, increasing the number of grants-- because you deserve it. You are just an excellent, outstanding place. All around the country and all around the world people want to come to Cornell because of agriculture excellence and science. So thanks for the good work you do, and with that, are you-- I think we're going to call on Dean Boor, who's the next speaker.
KATHRYN BOOR: So thank you so much, Senator Schumer, for reminding me about Professor Stocking, who, in fact, was a dairy microbiologist. So I'm certain that he is smiling somewhere today and celebrating you and your vision here with us. I am Kathryn Boor. I'm Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences here at Cornell. I'm also professor and former chair of the Department of Food Science right here, and on behalf of the entire CALS community, I'd like to thank Provost Fuchs and all of you for joining us here today, but I'd especially like to thank Senator Schumer for being here with us today to express his strong support for this important initiative not only for Cornell and the entire dairy industry, but even more importantly for our dairy product consumers all across our state, our nation, and certainly throughout the northeast.
Now, as a food microbiologist, I'm acutely aware of the serious risks that food borne pathogens, if left unchecked, pose to the health and the well-being of the general public, but what you may not realize is food safety hazards also pose threats to economic health and well-being of the industries that manufacture food products. And so this center that we're talking about today really plays, too, an important role in terms of protecting economic health and well-being. And this is why I believe it's so vitally important that milk producers and dairy manufacturers have access to results from the latest research, as well as appropriate technical support to ensure that their products are safe and that they're wholesome.
By partnering Cornell's expertise in food safety and sanitation with the federal government's mission to protect the public, I believe we can contribute synergistically to securing the safety of the nation's dairy products, while also enhancing the strength and the profitability of the dairy industry itself. From our College of Veterinary Medicine and its quality milk production services to the dairy program and our animal science department, to the food scientists right here in Stocking Hall, Cornell faculty and staff have proven track records in New York state and well beyond of providing dairy producers and processors with a central training and with technical expertise in dairy herd health, herd management, and food processing sanitation-- all of which are needed to ensure the safety of our dairy products and to meet stringent state and federal food safety regulations.
Ready access to Cornell's expertise has played an important role in fostering the growth and the vitality of our entire dairy sector. More specifically, it has been key to the recent explosive success of our state's number one in the nation yogurt industry. Our booming dairy processing industry is a success story here in New York with thousands of jobs and, as the senator said, literally billions of dollars in revenue that are directly supported by milk production and dairy manufacturing here in New York State. Recent data published by faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management indicate that the economic multiplier for jobs in the dairy manufacturing industry is a remarkable 5.6, which suggests that the approximately 8,000 such jobs in New York state have led to the creation more than 45,000 additional supporting jobs in the surrounding communities.
I believe that a partnership like the one Senator Schumer envisions between Cornell and our federal agencies will help ensure safer, higher quality, and, importantly, more delicious dairy products and also deliver jobs, economic growth, and real prosperity to communities that need it the most. I'm grateful to the senator for his commitment and for his enthusiasm regarding our state's dairy industry. I applaud his dedication to promoting the health, the safety, and the economic well-being of New Yorkers and all Americans. I thank you, Senator Schumer, for being here with us this afternoon. Now I'd like to invite you back up onto the stage to answer any questions.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Dean Boor.
And you know, I work very closely with your local elected officials, and here in Tompkins County in the city of Ithaca you have really great ones. So I wanted to acknowledge the chair of our Tompkins County legislature who's done a great job in this job and her previous one, and that is Martha Robertson.
And somebody I have fondness for, because I was elected to the assembly at age 23, and he was elected mayor at age 25-- 24. Close enough. Mayor Myrick, who does a great job, as well. [INAUDIBLE]
And we also have our-- she is more than just a political person because she's so active in every way and is always making sure all the elected officials from one end of the state to the other do the right thing, and that is our democratic chair, Irene Stein.
So I know you probably have questions on a lot of subjects, but we're just going to take them on this subject first, and then we'll do a little tour, and then you can do questions on other subjects, including the S one-- Syria. I know you have questions on that. So how about questions on this subject right for this audience? If you have any.
AUDIENCE: What it would take to put together a hub lie this?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, if you did it at Cornell, the cost would be a lot less because they're doing so much of the work already, and part of what we're talking about is recognition so that people around the country would know how great Cornell is. We do in New York state, but the other 49 states should know it, as well. There are grants already, and we probably get a greater share of those grants, so I couldn't tell you an exact number, but my guess is the bang for the buck would be huge. And I would not expect it to be higher than in the tens of millions.
AUDIENCE: Also what would it take to get the agencies doing this?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, it's going to take the Department of Agriculture to be involved, and I have a great relationship with Secretary Vilsack, as well as the FDA, and our FDA commissioner actually comes from New York, from New York City-- Margaret Hamburg. And so I'll be lobbying them, and generally I'm not regarded as a shy lobbyist. They can do it on their own is what I'm saying. We don't need legislation.
AUDIENCE: Any other states and major land grant universities [INAUDIBLE]?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: No, this idea really Cornell and I put together and will be first out of the box, but that makes sense because this is the best school of agricultural science in the country. I don't even know who your competitor would be. In New York, you don't have any. There's probably someone somewhere, yeah, but we're not going to mention them.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, the Farm Bill-- this would not be part of the Farm Bill, because it could be done separately, although the amount of food safety money in the Farm Bill has actually increased significantly. So if we became a center of excellence-- and even if we didn't-- we'll be able to have a greater chance of getting more of these grants with the push that I'm making. Now, we have to pass the Farm Bill. As you know, this is a typical example of Washington. We passed the Farm Bill-- like the Immigration Bill, similar-- with a strong bipartisan vote in the Senate. We got most every Democrat on both bills. On the Immigration Bill, every Democrat. I'm not sure if it was every Democrat in the Farm Bill, but close enough.
And a significant number of Republicans voted for it in the Senate, but that small group on the hard right who is against the government doing anything has held up the bill in the House. They're not going to be able to last-- to hold it up much longer, because these guys have gone back to their states and [INAUDIBLE], and they're getting hammered by very conservative groups. Our big growers want this bill. Yes, and this is the great Amanda Spellicy, who I should also acknowledge.
I have a great staff. I am truly blessed with a great staff. We were the first senator-- I think the only to have an office in the southern tier, and it's based out of Binghamton. And for over 10 years, Amanda-- 10? 11? 11 years Amanda Spellicy has run that office and done a great job. She started out as Amanda Pasquale. She got married, became Amanda Spellicy, had a child, little Stella, who's now two, and she's still working hard for me and for you. So that's Amanda, who's running the show.
Well, thank you all for coming, and how many of you are students here? Raise your hands. Great. And how many of you are from New York? Good. We like people-- and the rest of you who come here are going to stay here anyway from other states. We know that, because a lot of people do, but Cornell is a blessing in every way. I work with the agriculture school and agriculture science. I work with physics. I work with the medical-- with all of them, and it's one of the premier research institutions in the whole world, and we are just excited at all the things you're doing. And you're going to not only transform rural New York, but with the high tech engineering school down on Roosevelt Island, you're going to transform New York City's economy, as well. Many people predict that in 10 or 15 years we'll be equal to or greater than Silicon Valley in good part because of the work that you're doing there, as well. So keep up the good work. Thank you.
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With its state-of-the-art facilities, expertise and extensive extension and training network, Cornell University is positioned to be a national center of excellence in dairy and food safety, according to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
In a September 3, 2013 press conference, Schumer promised to put his political muscle behind the effort to give Cornell official federal recognition for its efforts by lobbying leaders of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The designation would be the first of its kind supporting the dairy industry.