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Event highlights nutrition, economic impact and celebrates dairy farmers, companies

June 6, 2018

Governor Rick Snyder declared today, June 6, 2018, as Dairy Day in Michigan. Representatives of Michigan’s dairy industry gathered on the Capitol lawn in downtown Lansing to celebrate the state’s dairy industry and farmers, the dairy sector’s contribution to Michigan’s economy, and the role it plays in feeding Michiganders.

Dairy Foods Awareness Day – hosted by the Michigan Dairy Foods Association, United Dairy Industry of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development – featured free samples of locally produced dairy foods. The celebration included a special appearance by two-time Olympic Gold Medalist soccer player and Michigan native, Lindsay Tarpley, of Portage.

Senator Margret O’Brien and Jason Wataga

“Dairy makes up the single largest segment of Michigan’s agriculture industry and is an integral part of the state’s economy,” said MDARD Director Gordon Wenk. “Michigan is home to large dairy processors using state-of-the-art technologies to create delicious, value-added dairy products, some of which were available for sampling today. And, Michigan is second only to Vermont in the number of small non-traditional (artisan) dairy processors. The state is ripe for growth for more dairy processing, large or small, and MDARD is ready to help those companies call Michigan home.”

“Dairy Foods Awareness Day is a great opportunity for legislators, staff and the public to learn about the economic impact that the dairy industry has in our state,” said Jason Wadaga. “Michigan’s dairy industry has a $15.7 billion impact on the state’s economy annually, and 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 nearly 22 percent of the total cash receipts.”

Milk production at Michigan’s 1,627 dairy farms ranks 6th nationally, with 11.2 billion pounds of milk produced in 2017 (30 million pounds of milk produced per day). Michigan leads the nation in pounds of milk produced

IMG_1155per dairy cow, with 26,320 pounds of milk produced per cow in 2017. The total pounds of milk produced in Michigan has increased by 94 percent since 2000, and the total number of dairy cows has increased by 40 percent, from 304,000 cows to 426,000 cows.

Representatives from Michigan businesses and the dairy industry offered free dairy product samples, ranging from cheese and sour cream dips, to pizza, 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, Country Fresh (Dean Foods), Prairie Farms, Domino’s Pizza, and McDonald’s.

Tarpley gave pointers to parents and caregivers on how to help children improve their eating habits, stressed the importance of good nutrition and physical activity for children, and demonstrated how dairy fits into a well-balanced, healthy meal plan. State Senator Judy Emmons (R – District 33), a dairy farmer; State Representative Julie Alexander (R – District 64), a long-time member and supporter of the dairy industry; and Jason Wadaga, executive director of the Michigan Dairy Foods Association, also participated in the program.

Senator Margret O’Brien with 2-time Olympic Gold medalist soccer player Lindsay Tarpley

Dairy Foods Awareness 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, foods that are valuable sources of essential nutrients our bodies need,” said Sharon Toth, chief executive officer, United Dairy Industry of Michigan. “Consumption of milk and milk products is associated with better bone health and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure. Dairy foods can also help Americans get the recommended levels of calcium, vitamin D and protein from their diets.”

For more information about Michigan’s dairy industry, visit http://www.milkmeansmore.org.