Report shows the importance of dairy in Virginia

economic-forecast-headerWith a reminder that milk is the official beverage of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed June as Dairy Month in the Commonwealth. He cites the following numbers in his proclamation in celebration of milk, its economic importance to Virginia and its health benefits to all citizens:

  • Milk is the third highest selling agricultural product in Virginia, with $358 million in cash receipts in 2012.
  • According to figures from the dairy program at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), in 2013 Virginia had 630 licensed Grade A dairy farmsnine commercial milk processing plants, and three on-farm bottling plants in the Commonwealth.
  • Milk has been the official beverage of Virginia since 1982.
  • A cup of milk has 8.4 grams of protein, and provides 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium and 23 percent of the RDA of vitamin A.
  • Virginia’s top dairy-producing counties in 2013 were Rockingham, producing 512 million poundsFranklin, with 178 million poundsPittsylvania, 136.5 million poundsAugusta, 135 million poundsFauquier, 49.7 million pounds; andClarke, 48.8 million pounds.

Here’s another important number about milk. According to Crafton Wilkes, Administrator of the State Milk Commission at VDACS, milk is sold commercially by the hundredweight, not gallons. Making that conversion is a mathematical formula that goes like this: 8.6 pounds equal one gallon; thus 100 pounds of milk would be about 11.6 gallons.

And the numbers continue. In 2012, Virginia’s dairy farms produced more than 200.8 million gallons of milk (1.73 billion pounds). More specifically, each of Virginia’s 96,000 dairy cows produced an average of 6.9 gallons of milk every day, enough to make 5.9 pounds of cheese or 2.8 pounds of butter. To produce this much milk, an average cow consumed 40 gallons of water25 pounds of grain and feed concentrates and 60 pounds of corn silage each day.

More information on the value of dairy in your diet is available at More numbers and facts about Virginia agriculture are available at


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