July 13-19, 2000
Poultry industry is surpassing dairy farms in value of production
By TOM KANE
MONGAUP - Ducks and chickens worth more than cows? Poultry more valuable than dairy? I don't believe it!
Recently industry statistics indicate that the poultry industry has replaced the dairy industry in Sullivan County as the leader in the value of agricultural products produced.
Statistics disseminated by the Cornell Cooperative Extension' s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan state that the dairy industry led all county businesses in the value of agricultural products. Not any more.The stats based on 1998 information quotes a figure of $10 million in the value of dairy products.
"I equal that myself in one year," said Izzy Yanay, partner of Hudson Valley Froie Gras. Add to that the rest of the county's poultry producers, the contribution to the economy of the county by poultry over dairy has more than doubled. The Sullivan-based Hudson Froie Gras is the largest producer and distributor of froie gras in the country. Froie Gras is a specialty food product derived from the livers of ducks that is made into a pate and, while its use has been limited to upscale restaurants, it has been growing in popularity throughout the nation and other countries.
"We sell our product to many fine restaurants in New York City," Yanay said. "But we also sell to restaurants in other cities in the country. New York accounts for only 30 percent of our market." Some of his customers are in Latin America, South Africa and Canada. In fact, one of his plants is located in Quebec, Canada. Legislation being pushed by the U.S. Department of Food Administration and the Clinton administration would levy a 100 percent tax on certain European Union products coming into this country, among them froie gras from France, the world's top producer of frioe gras. The reason for the proposed legislation is to retaliate against the Europe's banning of American meat products from animals injected with hormones. If this legislation goes through, Yanay's business would receive a considerable boon."I'm having trouble meeting the demand as it is," Yanay said.
His company, which also sells duck parts to the market, he said. It accounts of 35 percent of his business. "The poultry businesses' recent growth has been an enormous shot in the arm for Sullivan County," said Joseph Walsh, agricultural educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension." Izzy has been a big part of it."Izzy's partner, Michael Ginor, who handles the public relations and marketing for the company, is the author of a recent book on froie gras, called "Froie Gras Passion." Hudson Valley Froie Gras employs about 185 workers, most of them Spanish-speaking, who live on the farms. Each year, the company produces about 170 tons of the product. Yanay has a plan to collaborate with the biggest producer of froie gras in the world-the Rougie Company in France-to begin processing the product and putting it in cans or other kinds of containers. "It could mean hiring another 100 people and building more plants," Yanay said. Yanay, who buys all his supplies from Sullivan County vendors, would use county construction companies to build the plants. "It's my dream," he said.