Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared June 7, 2017 as Michigan Dairy Day to celebrate the state’s dairy industry, its farmers, its contribution to the state’s economy and the role it plays in feeding Michiganders.
Dairy Food Awareness Day is hosted by the Michigan Dairy Foods Association, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on the Capitol lawn, with free locally produced dairy foods. And this year included a special appearance by four-time Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer and Michigan native, Allison Schmitt.
“Michigan’s dairy industry is an integral part of the state’s economy.” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “We have seen expansion in new dairy businesses and technologies, from large dairy processors and automated ‘robotic’ milking systems, to smaller on-farm artisanal cheese makers. There is ample opportunity for more dairy processing to happen right here in the state and MDARD is ready to help those companies call Michigan home.”
There are 1,800 dairy farms, of all sizes, producing nearly 11 billion pounds of milk in 2016. According to newly released information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Ag Statistics Service, Michigan ranks 5th in the nation for milk production. The state’s dairy industry generates 40,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, both on and off the farm. Dairy is the leading segment of Michigan’s agriculture economy contributing nearly 22 percent of the total cash receipts.
Representatives from Michigan businesses and the dairy industry offered free dairy product samples, ranging from cheese and sour cream dips, to butter cookies, milk, and ice cream. Participating businesses included the MSU Dairy Store, Country Dairy, Michigan Dairy/Kroger Co., Dairy Farmers of America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream, Guernsey Farms Dairy and Country Fresh (Dean Foods).
Schmitt offered pointers to parents and caregivers on helping children improve their eating habits, the importance of good nutrition and physical activity for children, and how dairy fits into a well-balanced, healthy meal plan.
State Senator Judy Emmons (R – District 33) and State Representative Julie Alexander (R – District 64), who are both dairy farmers; and Jason Wadaga, executive director of the Michigan Dairy Foods Association, also participated in the program.
Dairy Day is traditionally celebrated in Michigan during June, National Dairy Month. Americans are encouraged to reduce risks of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity and colon cancer through consumption of dairy products.
“Dairy Day and National Dairy Month are great reminders to get the recommended three servings of dairy daily, not only from milk, but also cheese and yogurt, since these foods are valuable sources of essential nutrients,” said Sharon Toth, chief operating officer, United Dairy Industry of Michigan. “Estimates show that most Americans are not getting enough calcium from their diets, which means they are not benefitting from optimal calcium absorption and nutrition.”
For more information about Michigan’s dairy industry, visit www.milkmeansmore.org.