Home June honors dairy products and farmers who provide them

June honors dairy products and farmers who provide them

cowsPour a cold glass of milk, and toast Virginia’s dairy producers during National Dairy Month. Milk is the official beverage of Virginia and the state’s third-ranked farm commodity in terms of cash receipts. Virginia is home to 640 dairy farms and an estimated 95,000 dairy cows.

Virginia dairy cows produce an average of 7 gallons of milk per day and over 200 million gallons of milk a year, according to the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. Rockingham County is ranked No. 1 in terms of milk produced, generating 529 million pounds annually; Franklin and Pittsylvania counties are ranked second and third, producing 186 million and 144 million pounds, respectively.

Virginia is ranked 21st nationwide for the size of its dairy herd and 23rd for milk production. The U.S. dairy industry as a whole is expanding on 2014 strategies to increase dairy exports in competition with markets such as New Zealand and the European Union.

“Exports have gradually risen in both volume and dollar value from 2012 to 2014; however, going forward, a stronger dollar will make U.S. dairy products more expensive overseas,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Domestically, the industry has seen record farm milk prices over the past three years.

“Dairy product exports have driven the higher prices,” Banks said. “U.S. dairy exports have traditionally been driven by surplus production, but in recent years the industry has made a concerted effort to cultivate an export market.” Larger dairy states like California and Wisconsin are the export leaders.

“Most of the milk produced in Virginia is consumed as a fluid beverage domestically,” Banks said. “We’re beginning to see more on-farm milk, cheese and yogurt manufacturing in Virginia in response to the local food movement, but the bulk of our milk still makes its way to the grocer’s shelf.”



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