CCFB volunteer, Evonne Hausman, is celebrating National Dairy Month in June. Take a moment to read why National Dairy Month is important to our community!
Evonne Hausman grew up on a dairy farm in Champaign County and now farms with her husband, Chris in Pesotum, IL.
It is National Dairy Month time to enjoy eating ice cream, milk, and cheese. National Dairy Month, originally known as National Milk Month, was created in 1937 by grocers to promote milk consumption. The focus shifted in 1939 to include promoting the health benefits of milk including one serving of milk containing 8 grams of protein.
Of the dairy farms in the US 97% are still family owned and operated. Recent statistics reinforce the impact dairy farmers have on local economies by supporting the economic well-being of rural and urban America, providing support for more than 900,000 jobs throughout the U.S.
Dairy farmers have changed how they run their milking operations over the years as technology has made an impact in the industry. As times have changed, milking cows has become a high tech, automated operation. Robotic and automatic milkers are gaining popularity and research into dairy science and nutrition have improved the efficiency of dairy operations in the US. However, over the years, the number of dairy herds throughout the U.S. has decreased. Currently, Illinois is the 21st largest milk producing state in the U.S., being home to 680 licensed dairy herds, while California is ranked 1st and Wisconsin is ranked 2nd. Despite rising fuel and feed costs, milk is a great value at about 25 cents per 8-ounce glass. It takes only 48 hours for milk to travel from dairy farms to your local store, making milk one of the freshest local products you can find on your grocery store’s shelves.
However, this great value does have a down side. Dairy farmers are currently facing increasingly tight margins between input costs and the value of their milk. With the demand for dairy products decreasing yearly, dairy producers are increasingly forced to make difficult decisions to stay in business. USDA statistics show that American’s consumption of dairy products is decreasing. In 1996, the average American consumed 205 pounds of fluid milk per year dropping to 154 pounds of fluid milk per person in 2016. Ice cream consumption has decreased over the past 10 years too. The average American consumed 15.1 pounds of regular ice cream in 1996 versus 13.1 pounds of regular ice cream in 2016. So, eat that ice cream, drink some milk, and get extra cheese on your pizza to support dairy farmers.
I realize fewer and fewer people have been to a dairy farm. An opportunity to learn more about agriculture is short drive from central Illinois. A fun getaway to Fair Oaks Farm in northwest Indiana. You can learn more about agriculture, including dairy cows, at Fair Oaks Farm. As a visitor you will receive a great deal of information about the sustainability aspects of the farm, cow nutrition, and the safety & nutrition of milk through hands on activities and exhibits. You can find information on Fair Oaks Farm at fofarms.com. Be sure to enjoy some cheese, ice cream, or a tall glass of milk.