Virginia to mark June as Dairy Month

Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed June as Dairy Month in Virginia.

“Milk consistently ranks as one of the top commodities in Virginia,” said McDonnell. “In 2010 it was number three.” (Rankings for all commodities for 2011 are not in yet.)  “The state’s largest industry is agriculture,” the Governor added, “and in 2010, fluid milk yielded $332 million in cash receipts.  That’s a lot of milk, and that figure doesn’t include cheese, ice cream, milk powder, butter or other dairy products.”

The Southeast Dairy Association provided these additional 2011facts on the dairy industry in Virginia:

·         The Virginia dairy industry generated an estimated $960 million in economic activity in 2011.

·         The state has eight milk processing plants – in Lynchburg. Mt. Crawford, Newport News, Richmond, Rural Retreat, Springfield, Winchester and Wirtz.

·         Total amount of milk produced in the state during 2011 amounted to 198 million gallons.

·         There were 690 licensed commercial dairy farms operating in Virginia during 2011.

·         In Virginia, cash receipts for the sale of milk by dairy farmers amounted to $332 million during 2011.

·         The average 2011 net price received by Virginia dairy farmers for their milk was approximately $1.88 for each gallon of milk.

·         There were an estimated 96,000 milk cows on dairy farms in the state during 2011.

·         Each dairy cow in Virginia produced an average of 2,058 gallons of milk last year.

·         In Virginia, almost 100 percent of the milk produced in 2011 was used and consumed in the form of fluid milk dairy foods.

·         In 2011, Virginia dairy cows produced an average of 5.6 gallons of milk per day, or enough to make 4.9 pounds of cheese or two pounds of butter. To produce this much milk, an average cow consumes 50 gallons of water, 20 pounds of grain and feed concentrates and 55 pounds of corn silage per day.

·         The average value of a day’s milk was $10.63 per cow last year.

·         In 2011, a dairy cow in Virginia cost about $1,510 per head.

·         According to the Virginia State Dairyman’s Association, the average Virginia dairy farm has a herd of 140 milking cows.

·         Virginia’s top six ranking dairy counties according to the number of licensed dairy farms during 2011 were:

o   Rockingham County with 227 dairy farms

o   Franklin County with 59 dairy farms

o   Augusta County with 46 dairy farms

o   Fauquier County with 28 dairy farms

o   Wythe County with 23 dairy farms

o   Charlotte County with 18 dairy farms

While the economics of the dairy industry are very important, what matters to most people is taste and nutrition, and dairy products are known for both. They are nutrient-dense, supplying 72 percent of the calcium available in the American diet, along with nine essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B-12, as well as protein. Studies indicate that eating three to four servings of dairy per day could help lower the risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer as well as assist with weight management.

“I encourage my own children to get at least three servings of dairy per day,” said Matthew J. Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “They are 11 and six years old and need the calcium in fluid milk for strong bones and teeth. But we don’t stop at drinking milk. We also consume a lot of cheese and yogurt to ensure good nutrition.”

Lohr is the chief cook at his house, and he says that giving his children plenty of fun options ensures they’ll eat healthy without thinking twice.  He tops cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt with some fresh berries and low-fat granola or mixes fat-free yogurt with a dollop of honey and uses it as a tasty dip for sliced apples and other bite-size pieces of fresh fruit.

“Let the kids make their own smoothies at a creation station in the kitchen where they can mix low-fat milk or yogurt with fruit and other favorite items. Or go traditional with scrambled eggs topped with low-fat cheese, whole wheat toast and milk, or whole grain cereal with milk topped with fresh berries or banana slices for breakfast,” he advises.


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