Loan repaid by Chobani re-offered to dairy farmers

NORWICH – Other industries have come and gone, but dairy has been churning Chenango County for more than a century. Now, thanks to the successful new cog in the wheel called Chobani Greek yogurt, future growth appears all but certain.

In celebration of Dairy Month and agriculture in general, Development Chenango (the county’s economic development arm) unveiled a loan program Friday that was made possible by the number one Greek yogurt manufacturer. Farmers may buy cows, new equipment, and even acreage with up to $250,000 from a dairy-specific revolving loan fund.

The money was originally loaned to the New Berlin-based business six years ago as part of a grant from the New York State Office of Community Renewal. Hamdi Ulukaya, president, CEO, & founder of Chobani, made the special announcement at a luncheon at the Canasawacta County Club, saying it’s time to “loan back” to keep the dairy industry expanding.

“Because we used it first, it’s got a good feeling for you,” the Turkish immigrant told a large group of agribusiness enthusiasts and their corporate, government and community supporters who came to hear the Chobani success story.

Ulukaya is convinced that Central New York has the best milk in the country and said he takes great pride in producing a product that’s not only healthy, but tastes good. The yogurt plant uses over three million pounds of milk a day – 85 percent of which comes from New York dairy farmers – and ships over 1.7 million cases each week across the country.

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