National Dairy Month
Did you know that Idaho produces about 15 billion pounds of milk every year? That’s enough to fill more than 23,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This being said, Idaho proudly secures the third position in total milk and cheese production nationwide.
Other states in the Pacific Northwest also add to the region’s proud dairy traditions and make meaningful contributions to the dairy industry. Washington has dairies in all 28 counties of the state, and it is home to one of the oldest creameries in the nation! In Oregon, milk is the official state beverage, symbolizing the state’s deep appreciation for dairy products.
As June marks National Dairy Month, Valley Wide wants to help you explore more about the benefits and background of this month and inspire you to celebrate with us.
How it Started
National Dairy Month has a rich history that dates to 1937, when it was first established as National Milk Month. The initiative aimed to promote the consumption of milk and its vital role in a healthy diet. Over time, the celebration expanded to include all dairy products, leading to the renaming of the event as National Dairy Month.
Throughout the years, National Dairy Month has served as an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the hard work of dairy farmers, the nutritious benefits of dairy products, and the significant contributions of the dairy industry to our daily lives. It continues to be a time of celebration and education, raising awareness about the importance of dairy in our diets and fostering a deeper understanding of the dairy industry.
The dairy industry provides employment opportunities to approximately 3 million people nationwide including a diverse range of employment options such as dairy farms, processing plants, distribution centers and more. These jobs contribute to local economies by providing stable incomes and stimulating consumer spending. Overall, the U.S. dairy industry contributes $620 billion to the economy annually.
In Washington, the dairy industry directly employs over 18,000 people, and in Oregon, over 13,000. However, its influence extends beyond these direct jobs, as it also supports many additional jobs in sectors like transportation, manufacturing, and retail. This creates a ripple effect, benefiting the overall economy of the state.
The economic significance of the dairy industry in Idaho is evident through the substantial revenue it generates. Idaho’s reputation for producing high-quality milk makes it highly sought after for the production of popular dairy products such as cheese, butter, and yogurt.
Dairy Health Benefits
Many people are familiar with the famous “Got Milk?” campaign and the multitude of health benefits milk offers. However, many people don’t know that milk is the only ‘food’ that someone could survive solely off of. A single cup of whole milk provides a balanced combination of all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, making it a well-rounded choice for nourishment.
Dairy products play a crucial role in strengthening the immune system, thanks to their abundance of essential vitamins and nutrients such as protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and more. They also serve as an excellent source of calcium, a vital nutrient for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In fact, milk stands as the primary source of calcium for most Americans.
Ways to Celebrate the Dairy Industry this Month
1. Learn how to make your own ice cream.
What better way to kick off summer than with fresh homemade ice cream? This treat perfectly captures the essence of National Dairy Month, showcasing the versatility and deliciousness of dairy products.
2. Purchase milk from grocery stores that buy milk locally.
When you buy locally, you not only get a fresher product, but you also help maintain the livelihood of dairy farmers near you. Shop local, and give back to your community!
3. Attend Dairy Events Near You!
Connect with local farmers, learn about sustainable practices, and celebrate the flavors and traditions of dairy. Find events happening in your area, and don’t miss out on the excitement!
4. Take a tour of a cheese or ice cream factory.
Learn about the skill and special techniques that go into making your favorite cheese or ice cream with a local factory tour. Sample a variety of flavors and textures along the way, and deepen your appreciation for the behind-the-scenes craftsmanship.
5. Visit a local dairy farm and thank a farmer!
Celebrate the dairy industry by visiting a local dairy farm and showing gratitude to the hardworking farmers. This is a meaningful way to connect with your source of food and support your agricultural community.