Editorial - Tip a hat to a dairy farmer this monthIt’s easy to take for granted that cold jug of milk in your fridge, or where that wonderfully cheesy topping for your pizza came from.
It’s easy to take for granted that cold jug of milk in your fridge, or where that wonderfully cheesy topping for your pizza came from.
People enjoy wholesome dairy products every day without stopping to think about those who make it possible.
Now is a good time. June is Dairy Month – an opportunity to thank the farmers who contribute so much – not only healthy food products but to the economy as well.
Dairy farmers bring jobs and economic activity to communities across the state. Here are some facts to drink up from the Midwest Dairy Association:
•Approximately 4,770 dairy farms in the state produce milk that provides milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products to residents of Minnesota, the U.S., and dairy consumers around the world.
•Approximately 98 percent of all Minnesota dairy farms are family-owned.
•In Minnesota, the average dairy cow will produce about six gallons of milk per day over the course of a typical year. That’s more than 2,000 gallons a year.
•Minnesota dairy farms produce 8.7 billion pounds of milk annually, equal to 171 million gallons.
•Minnesota cows produced more than 5 percent of the nation’s milk supply in 2008. Milk production ranks sixth nationally; the state ranks fifth nationally in cheese production.
•A strong dairy industry benefits the agricultural economy and the economic well being of rural Minnesota. In 2008, Minnesota dairies enrolled in the Farm Business Management Program Database spent more than $800,000 on farm and living expenses.
Another good point that the association makes is that milk doesn’t stay on the farm. Wherever it goes, it creates jobs for people who grow and ship feed for cows, as well as for veterinarians, insurance agents, accountants, bankers, and others.
Dairy farmers purchase machinery, trucks, fuel, and more from local companies, generating jobs and income, the association notes. After milk leaves the farm, it travels by truck to a dairy plant, where people process cheese, fluid milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products.
Truckers, packaging manufacturers and food marketers complete the cycle by transporting and marketing the dairy products. This means jobs in the transportation, distribution and retail industries.
Dairy farmers are also good at what they do. They’ve improved the amount of milk each cow produces and that reduces the amount of feed, water and space needed to produce the milk. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, America’s dairy farmers are producing almost three times more milk with about half the number of cows compared to 1960.
The Douglas County Dairy Association invites the public to a “Lunch on the Farm” event at the Bill Dropik farm on Saturday, June 27. The farm is located next to Trophy’s on Highway 27 East by Nelson. Free cheeseburgers and malts will be served. There will also be a petting zoo.
Douglas County is lucky to have hard-working dairy farmers contributing to the local economy and providing food products. We should be appreciating their contributions and impact year-round, not just during June. Farmers around these parts don’t seek the limelight or expect a lot of praise. They just do their job, day in and day out. We should thank them for their dedication, their commitment to natural resources and for making America’s milk and dairy products among the safest – and tastiest – in the world.