When people think of dairy farmers they think about milk, cheese or yogurt – the yummy goodness you reach for in the fridge when it’s time to eat, snack or refuel. But have you ever thought about what dairy farmers bring to the table other than delicious dairy foods? The truth is that dairy farms contribute food, jobs, income and outreach in their local communities and beyond!
Dairy farmers are passionate about their land and cows, which makes them committed to working hard every day to ensure they can pass down the tradition to new generations. Thankfully for us, their hard work also makes a huge impact on the economy in a positive way. For example, dairy is New Mexico’s top cash crop: It produces more money in that state than any other sector of agriculture.
“Dairy is the number one commodity, which is very important for New Mexico,” says Dr. Robert Hagevoort, extension dairy specialist at New Mexico State University.
Another way dairy farms contribute to communities is by creating job opportunities. After all, dairy farmers can’t do all the work themselves! A good rule of thumb is that one worker is needed for every 100 cows. Over 900,000 direct jobs and more than 2 million total jobs are created by the dairy industry in the U.S. Hiring the right employees is important to dairy farmers, especially since cows must be cared for 365 days a year.
They also contribute money to local and national economies. For every dollar generated from dairy farming, it turns over three to seven times in the local community. The overall impact of dairy foods in the U.S. is close to $200 billion, which goes back to local, state and national economies.
“Without agriculture, the economy can’t flourish,” says Hagevoort. “We tend to overlook how important it is to have an affordable food supply. There’s a lot that goes into making food affordable and sustainable.”
Farmers are also making a global impact every day, feeding communities here in the U.S. and all around the world! Without dairy foods being produced, not only would we miss out on enjoying them – but there would be a large gap in the world’s food supply and economy.
Aside from their work on the farm, dairy farmers show passion by being involved in their communities and giving back. They invest time, resources and talents in their communities throughout the year. During the month of June, some farmers even volunteer at local blood drives through the Passion for Pints program. They give out dairy products to help donors replenish and share their stories or answer questions about dairy farming.
Dairy farmers are passionate about delivering the freshest and most delicious dairy foods from farm to fridge. And as dairy lovers, we get to enjoy the goodness of their labor and benefit from their impact on our economy.