By: Patrick Geoghegan, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
All year long, we revel in the glory of Wisconsin cheese. We spend a lot of time drooling over new recipes, hosting giveaways and celebrating all things cheese. But as summer in Wisconsin approaches, we begin by celebrating June Dairy Month. It gives us the opportunity to think about what happens before Wisconsin cheese hits the stores and ends up in your kitchen or at your favorite restaurant. Before Wisconsin’s 1,200 licensed cheesemakers produce more than 2.85 billion pounds and 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese annually using 90 percent of Wisconsin’s milk. It all starts on the dairy farm.
Wisconsin’s dairy farm families have been deeply rooted in a Wisconsin heritage for more than 160 years – one that’s truly unique to our state. Our 10,000 dairy farms include rotational grazing operations, organic producers, and conventional dairy operations of all sizes. Plus, 99 percent of Wisconsin dairy farms are family owned, many of which have been handed down over several generations.
One of my favorite stories about the family dairy heritage in Wisconsin is from a young couple, Troy and Patty Sellen, who grew up in dairy farm families and now own and operate their own dairy farm in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin. Below is a short video about their story.
The Sellens and all other dairy farm families mean a lot to us in Wisconsin. Our dairy industry contributes $43.4 billion per year to the state’s economy – 49 percent of the total Wisconsin agriculture contribution compared to 45 percent just five years ago. To put that into perspective, the citrus industry contributes $9 billion to Florida’s economy and the potato industry contributes $6.7 billion to Idaho’s economy. It’s nothing to take lightly. The dairy business in Wisconsin directly supports 78,900 jobs and the average Wisconsin dairy cow generates more than $34,000 per year in economic activity. These dollars circulate through our local communities and beyond to help support schools, roads and other businesses.
We truly are America’s Dairyland. We’re proud of where Wisconsin cheese and other dairy products come from and we’re thrilled to put natural, quality products on your table for your family every day. And we know those dairy products reach your table – 98 percent of Americans purchase cheese and 95.6 percent purchase milk. Thank you for honoring our dairy farm families by enjoying our products and being loyal fans of Wisconsin cheese. We’re also celebrating you this June Dairy Month, because without your support and consumption of Wisconsin dairy, we wouldn’t continue to have the great impact we have in our communities and across the country.
This June, we also encourage you to celebrate all things dairy. Share the stories about Wisconsin dairy farm families, seek to learn more about where your dairy products come from and add a little more dairy to your menu this month.
We look forward to hearing from you all month long. Please share your experiences with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #CelebrateDairy. And if you live in Wisconsin, or are visiting Wisconsin this June, check out DairyDaysofSummer.com for information on how to attend farm breakfasts and other events throughout the state.