June Dairy Month: It All Starts Local
It is National Dairy Month---the time of year when we honor all things dairy. From the dedicated farmers to the cows to the delicious cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter they provide! Although the past months have been filled with uncertainty, one thing you can count on is dairy farmer’s commitment to feeding Americans. They continue to milk cows and plant crops every day; and many farmers across the U.S. are donating dairy to local food banks.
In good times and bad, dairy farmers have always been part of the local story. They operate farms in all 50 states and tend to pass them down through multiple generations. About 95 percent of dairy farms are family-owned with fewer than 200 cows.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, local food is produced, distributed and marketed to consumers in a limited geographic area. Although no pre-determined distance officially defines “local,” a set number of miles from a center point is often used. Because dairy is perishable, processing plants are usually located near dairy farms; meaning most milk in Illinois and Missouri is processed and sold in local stores. When you buy dairy foods, you are supporting hard-working farm families near you and positively impacting your local community.
Dairy farmers have long been a powerful force in building communities, safeguarding farmland and providing nutritious high-quality food. With today’s increased attention on small businesses’ survival, it’s important to note that dairy farms are the ultimate local business. In fact, most Americans live within 100 miles of a dairy farm. These small business owners are invested in their animals, land and the product they provide to consumers.
Since 1932, St. Louis District Dairy Council has brought the story of dairy foods and farmers to life through efforts across the bi-state area. As nutrition experts, they join with key community leaders to promote dairy through health education. We share the latest research, collaborate with schools to implement programs, and connect with consumers to deliver positive dairy messages- all at the local level.
With the increased focus on promoting the health of Missouri and Illinois residents during this June Dairy Month, it’s more important than ever to recognize the contributions of local dairy farmers. Let’s raise a glass of ice-cold milk for their incredible efforts in feeding all of us. Cheers!