Op-Ed: A special thanks to Vermont Dairy Farmers on National Milk Day

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Moo! National Milk Day was celebrated on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. #vtdairy. Stock photo.

Happy National Milk Day! On Jan. 11, we commemorated the day when milk started being delivered in sterilized glass bottles back in 1878. It’s no secret that Vermont is a dairy state. Dairy farming and production is a large part of the state’s cultural and economic identity, bringing $2.2 billion in economic activity each year (Vermont Dairy Promotion Council, 2015). In fact, milk generates more sales than any other Vermont agricultural product and 63 percent of all milk produced in New England comes from Vermont.

In 2017, the Legislature recognized that dairy farming is vital to maintaining a strong economy and protecting and preserving Vermont’s rural landscape. To determine the health of the state’s dairy industry, ensure that there’s an adequate supply of milk for all consumers and ensure equitable pricing for farmers, the Vermont Milk Commission was formed. On Wednesday, Jan. 10, Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Anson Tebbetts assembled the Commission for a sixth time to evaluate proposals and prepare recommendations to the congressional delegation for the 2018 federal Farm Bill.

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The Vermont Milk Commission. Photo provided.

Milk plays a critical role in the health and lives of Vermont students. In 2016, students in Vermont schools consumed approximately 751,315 gallons of milk. Milk contains nine essential nutrients, three of which are generally under-consumed by American children: calcium, potassium and vitamin D (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015). This makes milk an important drink option in school meals as it promotes children’s health and wellbeing. Additionally, milk is a foundation to fuel academic success for children, as well as to promote agricultural literacy and connect Vermont’s students to their dairy farmers.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture makes the process of storing and displaying ice cold milk at schools more feasible through the Farm to School Equipment Grant program (formerly known as the Milk Cooler Sponsorship Program). Through this program, VAAFM supports access to milk for all Vermont students by helping schools purchase equipment that can improve the viability of the child nutrition program overall.

Milk is also used to create a wide variety of other high-quality Vermont dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, sour cream, butter, and ice cream. So, lets thank our Vermont dairy farmers who work hard every day to produce a pure, healthy, and nutritious product for us all to enjoy.

Article written by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers, and the environment. For more information, go to www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov.

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