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Let’s celebrate all things dairy

By Staff | Jun 12, 2009

The food choices available in 21st century America would certainly astound our ancestors. Some of the culinary options at our disposal would have been unimaginable even a few decades ago.

Not only is the variety of the food available in this country amazing, its quality and safety rarely fall short of superb.

Milk and other dairy products are among the healthiest and most popular foods generated by American agriculture.

Since 1937, the dairy industry has designated June as Dairy Month. Originally called National Milk Month by the National Dairy Council, this annual promotional effort for the industry quickly evolved into a celebration of all things dairy.

According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, as of 2008, Iowa had just short of 2,000 licensed dairy farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2008 State Agriculture Overview for Iowa puts the number of dairy cows in the Hawkeye State at 216,000. According to the USDA, Iowa’s dairy herds produce 4.3 billion pounds of milk annually. An Iowa State Dairy Association fact sheet shows that Iowa ranks 12th among U.S. states in milk production. In cheese production it is No. 17. The state’s ice cream production is No. 4.

The 45 percent decline over the last several months in the price dairy farmers receive for milk is potentially a threat to an industry important to our state. Some analysts contend that unless the USDA sets a base price for milk, the state could lose up to one-quarter of its dairymen. (The Messenger/Farm News) urges U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to take a hard look at this issue. There could be no better time than Dairy Month to craft a solution.

The dairy industry makes an important contribution to Iowa’s continued prosperity. The ISDA puts the number of jobs the industry provides at 26,000 and estimates its annual contribution to the Iowa economy to be in excess of $1.5 billion.

When you sip that cool glass of milk, or savor an ice cream or cheese treat, take a few moments to give thanks for Iowa’s dairy industry.

Its products please the palate.

Its economic role enhances our prosperity.

Let’s work hard to keep this industry strong.

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