LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared June 12, 2019, as Michigan Dairy Foods Awareness Day to celebrate the state’s dairy industry, its farmers, the industry’s contribution to the state’s economy and the role the dairy farmers and processors play in feeding Michiganders.
Dairy Foods Awareness Day is hosted by the Michigan Dairy Foods Association, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) on the Capitol lawn, with free locally produced dairy foods provided by dairy processors and retailers. This year’s event also included a special appearance by Earl Cureton, former NBA player, WNBA assistant coach and current community ambassador for the Detroit Pistons.
“Michigan’s dairy industry is one of the largest agricultural industries in our state with an annual economic impact of $15.7 billion,” said Governor Whitmer. “Ninety-seven percent of Michigan’s dairy farms are family owned, many by multiple generations of the same family, and our farmers take pride in producing safe, wholesome, nutritious and delicious products for Michigan residents and dairy lovers across the nation and world.”
There are 1,359 dairy farms, of all sizes, which produced 11.2 billion pounds of milk in 2018, ranking Michigan 6th in the nation for milk production. Michigan’s dairy industry generates nearly 40,000 jobs, directly and indirectly both on and off the farm. Dairy is the leading segment of Michigan’s agriculture economy contributing 27 percent of the total cash receipts.
“Michigan has seen remarkable expansion in new dairy businesses and technologies, from large dairy processors and automated ‘robotic’ milking systems, to smaller on-farm artisanal cheese makers,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Increasing the capacity for dairy processing in our state provides a stable market for the high-quality milk our dairy farmers produce, which in turns supports our farm families and communities across the state and keeps healthy, nutritious dairy products affordable for all Michigan residents.”
Representatives from Michigan businesses and the dairy industry offered free dairy product samples, ranging from cheese and sour cream dips, to butter cookies, pizza, yogurt, milk, and ice cream. Participating businesses included Country Fresh (Dean Foods), Prairie Farms, Kroger/Michigan Dairy, Ashby’s Sterling Ice Cream, Michigan Milk Producers Association, MSU Dairy Store, Dairy Farmers of America, Country Dairy, Domino’s Pizza, LaColombe, McDonald’s, and Guernsey Farms Dairy.
Cureton 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 Ed McBroom (R – District 38) and State Representative Julie Alexander (R – District 64) -- who are both dairy farmers -- and Jason Wadaga, president of government relations at the Michigan Dairy Foods Association, also participated in the program.
Dairy Day is traditionally celebrated in Michigan during June, National Dairy Month. During National Dairy Month, Americans are encouraged to reduce risks of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, obesity and colon cancer through consumption of dairy products.
“I just love National Dairy Month and especially look forward to Dairy Day because we get to share many of the great dairy products made from milk produced right here in Michigan,” said Sharon Toth, chief operating officer, United Dairy Industry of Michigan. “With most Americans not getting enough calcium in their diets to promote bone health, featuring the many ways that dairy makes it easy is fun. From delicious cold milk to the cheese on your pizza to get-you-going lattes, the dairy farmers and processors provide what Michiganders need.”
For more information about Michigan’s dairy industry, visit www.milkmeansmore.org.