June is National Dairy Month, an apt time for the dairy industry to promote milk, cheese, ice cream and other dairy products as the summer season begins. Created as a way to promote milk consumption way back in 1937, National Dairy Month has become an annual celebration of the dairy industry.
However, it’s not always a good time for dairy farmers themselves, despite how the dairy industry may appear to consumers. As we recognize the goodness and plentitude of dairy products in our grocery aisles, let us take a moment to remember what many hardworking dairy farms are experiencing as they struggle to stay in profitable operation.
Consumers do not always see the difference between the price of milk at the grocery store and the price of milk received by the dairy farmer. The supply chain from the farm to the food aisle can leave consumers far removed from how their food is produced. According to the National Farmers Union, dairy farmers receive less than 45 percent of the cost for a gallon of milk than consumers pay in the store. (See the difference between milk and other food products here.)
The USDA’s most recent Milk Production report shows a continuance of the long trend of declining dairy operations. There were 600,000 U.S. dairy farms in 1976, dropping to 131,509 by 1992, down to 51,481 by 2012 and the report shows there were only 31,657 licensed operations in the U.S. in 2020.
This National Dairy Month, let us be thankful for our daily milk and bountiful dairy, but let us also pray for our dairy farmers who continue to struggle daily to make ends meet!