June is National Dairy Month
By: Courtney Wesner, Associate Extension Agent, Virginia Cooperative Extension
Within Cooperative Extension, we strive to empower individuals and communities to solve complex issues and challenges through scientific, research - based education. Our daily jobs are to empower farmers, ranchers, and community members to meet the day - to - day challenges through adapting to new technology, improving nutrition and food safety, encouraging positive youth development, preparing for response to emergencies, and protecting our natural environment, to name a few. The role of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent is one piece of a bigger system aimed at supporting the farming community. Agriculture in Orange County is extremely diverse and that diversity includes several commercial dairy operations that are in
operation. A hat - tip is deserved by those individuals able to master and continue dairy production during the current times of higher - than - ever input costs. In the author ’ s opinion, in terms of the necessary farming knowledge base needed to be successful, dairy farmers tend to lead the way. Dairy men and women must be master nutritionists, agronomists, animal health providers, geneticists, reproductive technologists, and the list continues. The amount of knowledge and breadth of scientific understanding that goes into the production of each milk product purchased at the store is amazing. Below are just a few science - related facts about the dairy industry. The progressiveness displayed by the industry, always rooted in science, is truly remarkable. • 99% of milk within the domestic milk supply is produced by farms that participate in the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Care program. This program was the first livestock animal care program to become internationally certified for meeting the ISO Animal Welfare Management standard. It focuses on socially responsible and exceptional care of animals. • In the previous decade, North America (with the U.S. being the primary producer) was the only region in the world to both increase milk production and reduce emissions. U.S. dairy production accounts for 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, 5% of water use, and less than 4% of U.S. farmland. • The dairy industry has been utilizing artificial insemination to select superior sires to increase production and efficiency for over 80 years. Currently, many producers are also utilizing genomics, ovum pick - up, and in - vitro fertilization to continue to advance genetic progress and production efficiency. • U.S. dairy farms are producing, on average, a minimum of three times more milk today as compared to 1960 while utilizing about half of the number of cows. This dramatically increased production efficiency, on a per cow basis, has significantly reduced the total resources needed by the dairy industry. When enjoying a dairy product or a recipe that utilizes dairy (like that on page 30), please take a moment to recognize the remarkably passionate and knowledgeable farmer whose work produced that product.
Page 29 | June, 2022
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