Today is National Ag Day and farmers and ranchers across the country are celebrating. Agriculture is a part of our daily lives, from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear and the products we use.
Dairy farmers are no exception. The work done on dairy farms not only results in delicious milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream and more, but also contributes to the local economy and helps to preserve farmland and keep animals safe and healthy.
But, did you know that our country’s dairy farms are in peril? Due to more than four years of low prices paid to farmers, decreased dairy foods consumption and excess milk production on both domestic and foreign markets, many dairy farms in the U.S. have been forced to (or are being threatened to) go out of business.
Why should this matter to you? There are several reasons a loss of dairy farms are a concern:
1. Loss of farmland. When a dairy farm goes out of business, the family often can no longer afford to keep the land that the farm is on. That means more acres of open rural land will be given over to housing or development.
2. Erosion of local economy. Dairy farms contribute to the local economy and each contribution has a multiplier effect. A farm employees local staff, they purchase items for the farm locally, and they bring other people into the community who then purchase items like lunch, gas and more in that community. In Pennsylvania, about 85 percent of a dairy farm’s income is spent locally, and each farm dollar recycles 2.5 times through the community.
3. Dairy foods will travel farther to your store. Currently, milk travels an average of 250 miles from farm to store. If more dairy farms are lost, then milk will need to travel farther from the remaining farms in operation.
What can you do? Simply put, eat more dairy foods. When you go to the store, be sure to seek out real dairy foods like cow’s milk and real coffee creamer and whipped cream (be sure to look at the labels closely!). Grab an extra gallon or two of milk and donate it to your local food bank. Indulge in ice cream, go out for pizza, and add yogurt as a snack.
Each dairy food you consume will make a difference. On National Ag Day, all of our dairy farmers want to take the time to thank YOU for supporting agriculture!