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Dairy farmers play key roles in the daily lives of us all

June 10, 2010
Salem News

Most of us will have some kind of breakfast today. Cereal with milk. Maybe some cheese in an omelette or some yogurt. Butter on the toast. And, of course, with some cream in our coffee.

This is usually a routine. It's a routine we can be excused for taking for granted simply because these food products are always there for us. It's human nature - we don't even think about it. We depend on them and they are there, often very inexpensive when compared to other food products.

June is National Dairy Month. We are geographically situated in an area that certainly has its share of dairy farmers throughout Columbiana and Mahoning counties. You and your family may be dairy farmers. You may have grown up on a farm. Been in 4-H and raised cows. We have all been to the county fairs. Or a solid assumption is that you at least know a dairy farmer. They are part of our local fabric and big contributors as workers, neighbors, friends and community members.

Farmers don't punch a clock or work some kind of 9-to-5 schedule. The work is grueling and the hours usually long, from the wee of the morning until the still of night. The stress from the physical demands only can be matched by that wrought from the whims of day-to-day market prices. All farmers are an exceptional group; rewards come in nurturing and delivering products to consumers that we all use starting everyday with breakfast.

The standard pyramid for good health recommends three servings of dairy foods daily. Nutrients are provided aplenty including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein along with vitamins and minerals. Benefits from dairy products can range from healthy skin to healthy internal organs. Besides, what tastes better than a tall, cold glass of milk on a hot summer day? Or, ok, maybe a milkshake?

Here are some impressive facts from the American Dairy Association accentuating the significance of dairy farming in Ohio:

- Ohio is home to more than 3,300 dairy farms. Hundreds of these are right here all around us.

- Ohio is home to more than 276,000 dairy cows. That's nothing to moo about.

- Ohio ranks first in the nation is Swiss cheese production. Can't punch holes in that fact. Our state ranks 8th overall in the nation in cheese production.

- Ohio ranks 11th in the nation in total milk production.

- Ohio's dairy cow produce more than 600 million - yes, million - gallons of milk annually. That can fill a lot of baby bottles.

Clearly milk and its by-products are life bloods for any entire nation. The next time you sit down to breakfast, think about that and think about all of the hard work involved in getting dairy products to your table. Appreciate the effort.

Dairy farming provides livelihoods for many and provides essential food products for all of us including our young. These farmers deserve our recognition. We raise our tall glasses in a toast to all of you.



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