FRANKFORT — When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered workplaces and left many people out of a job, farmers’ roles became even more pivotal. While navigating hardships and uncertainty of their own, dairy farmers across the state partnered with local food banks and other agencies to donate milk and dairy products to offset hunger in their communities. To honor this service and the everyday work of the dairy farmer, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles joined Kentucky dairymen and women in celebrating June as Dairy Month Wednesday at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA).
“When much of the world’s workforce was on hold last year, Kentucky’s agriculture producers never stopped. Our dairy farms still milked every day and continued to provide residents with fresh, affordable and delicious dairy products,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Kentucky’s dairy farms adapted to the changing environment and kept products on the shelves. Kentucky’s dairy farmers do so much for Kentucky families and honoring them with their own month is one small way we can acknowledge their ingenuity and dependability.”
“Kentucky’s dairy farmers continue to work diligently every day in producing high quality milk for the consumer and we’re excited about June Dairy Month and the attention it brings to our industry,” said H.H. Barlow, executive director of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council. “We truly appreciate every consumer and encourage them to drink and eat up great tasting nutritious milk and milk products.”
The dairy month celebration at the KDA was open to the public and sponsored by the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, which provided ice cream to attendees.
With more than 47,000 dairy cows in the state, dairy farmers not only produce the official beverage of Kentucky – milk – but also everything from ice cream to artisan cheese, providing Kentucky families with the calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals they need to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
On average, each of those dairy cows produce 7.2 gallons of milk a day. With more than 90 percent of milk produced consumed in liquid milk form, that’s 109 million gallons each year for the state.
Among all agricultural products, milk ranks eighth in its value in the state. Kentucky producers received more than $175,406,000 in cash receipts from sales of dairy products in 2020. Barren County was the top county in the state in the number of dairy cows with 6,500, followed by Adair, Logan, Christian, and Todd counties.
In October 2020, Commissioner Quarles helped launch “Kentucky Cheese Cares” in Kroger stores with Kentucky dairy farmers, The Dairy Alliance, Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Feeding America, and Feeding Kentucky. Kentucky Cheese Cares lets consumers join the fight against hunger by purchasing award-winning Kentucky specialty cheese products at participating Kroger locations. Fifty cents from each unit sold are used to distribute Kentucky dairy products through the Feeding Kentucky food bank network.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture helps Kentucky dairy farmers and processors find new markets for their products and conducts dairy cattle shows across the state. For more about the department’s services to the dairy industry, go to www.kyagr.com.
— Kentucky Department of Agriculture
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