June is National Dairy Month!
I’ve managed to connect with a lot of dairy farmers through my work here on the blog and I’ve noticed that dairy farmers are a pretty dedicated bunch of farmers. From early morning milking (yes, they have to do it every single morning) to a strong passion for their animals, dairy farmers are typically the epitome of great American farmers. To celebrate our dairy farms this month, I’ve put together 5 reasons we should celebrate the dairy farmers in our country!
1. Dairy farms are family farms.
According to the USDA, 98% of farms in the United States are considered family farms. The same applies to dairy farms as well! According to Progressive Dairyman, there were 45,344 licensed dairy farms in the United states in 2014. About 97% of those farms are considered family farms. The average herd size on a U.S. dairy farm is 204. That means when you purchase dairy products, you’re supporting family farmers.
2. Most diary products on the grocery store shelves are fresh and locally grown.
In general, most fluid milk goes from the farm to the grocery stores shelves within 24 to 48 hours. Although it varies by region, most milk is sold not all that far away from the dairy. You can even track down where the milk in your refrigerator came from by visiting Where Is My Milk From? and entering the code found on your milk container.
3. Dairy is a good source of healthy and nutritious food.
According to the National Dairy Council, milk, cheese, and yogurt provide 9 essential nutrients. These include: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin. The calcium in milk is beneficial for strong and healthy bones and teeth. Dairy products also pack a lot of protein, which helps promote muscle growth. There are also plenty of low fat and fat-free milk options that provide less fat and fewer calories per serving. You can learn more here.
4. All milk products are antibiotic free.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern. However, despite what you may have heard, all milk in the stores is free from antibiotics. Dairy cows are only given antibiotics when ill and usually under the care and direction of a veterinarian. In the event a cow is treated with antibiotics, its milk is discarded and does not go into the human food supply. Just to be sure every tanker load of milk is tested for antibiotics. If antibiotics are found in the load, the entire load is dumped.
5. Milk is an important contributor to the economy.
Not only is dairy good for our health, it’s good for the health of the economy, too. In the whole world, the United States ranks #2 in milk production, only the European Union has us beat. There are literally dairy farms in all 50 states, with California, Wisconsin, and Idaho leading in milk production. In 2014, U.S. dairies produced a total of 206,198,443 million pounds of milk! So, when you buy a milk product, you’re not only buying a quality food product, you’re supporting an American business and contributing to an important sector of agriculture!