June is celebrated as National Dairy Month, but every month is a very dairy one in Michigan.
By: Melissa Elischer, Michigan State University Extension
National Dairy Month began in 1937 when it was originally called National Milk Month as a means to promote drinking milk. Soon after, the National Dairy Council became involved in this annual celebration and the focus shifted to honor all dairy products. In 2015, why not enjoy all the delicious and nutritional benefits of dairy products by embarking on 30 Days of Dairy with facts and recipes about this amazing food?
June may be the official month to honor dairy products, but in Michigan, every month is really dairy month! Here are some fun dairy facts about Michigan:
- The dairy industry is the leading segment of Michigan agriculture, contributing over $14 million to the state’s annual economy.
- In 2014, Michigan ranked seventh in milk production in the United States. There are 380,000 cows in the state, which are spread out through almost 2,000 herds.
- The average size of dairy herd in Michigan is around 176 cows, but there are farms of all different sizes around the state. Most of these farms, 98 percent, are family owned operations that have been in operation through multiple generations.
- Michigan cows produced 23,700 pounds of milk each year, which is equal to 2,775 gallons. With all this milk in the state, Michigan has no trouble meeting the dairy needs of its residents and is still able to export milk to other states.
- This means you never have to look far for a dairy product you know will be fresh, nutritious and of the highest quality. To know if you are purchasing local Michigan dairy products, look for a five-digit code on the container of milk. The code is made of two sections: a two-digit state code and a three-digit processing plant code. Look for 26 in the state code – that’s mitten milk!
- Dairy foods are also very nutritious and versatile. Everything from milk to yogurt to cheese and more can be used in many different recipes.
If you have never had the chance to visit a local Michigan dairy farm, Michigan State University Extension offers the perfect opportunity to see exactly where food comes from! Breakfast on the Farm started in 2009 as a way to display the beauty and hard work of agriculture, as well as answer questions people may have about modern farming. There have been 28 Breakfasts on the Farms since 2009 with almost 61,000 people attending these events. In 2015, there are five breakfasts planned, all taking place at dairy farms across Michigan. The first breakfast happens July 11 in Mason County and the final one Aug. 29 in Hillsdale County. The event is free to attend and a wonderful opportunity to learn about dairy production in Michigan.