With a reminder that milk is the official beverage of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell has proclaimed June as Virginia Dairy Month in the Commonwealth.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia dairy industry has contributed to the development of the state’s economy and the well-being of its citizens since dairy cows arrived at Jamestown in 1611. More than 400 years later, Virginia’s dairy industry consistently ranks near the top when compared to the state’s other principal crops, livestock and livestock products.
In 2012, Virginia’s dairy farms produced more than 198 million gallons of milk and contributed cash receipts of $395 million to the state’s bottom line. More specifically, each of Virginia’s 96,000 dairy cows produced an average of 5.6 gallons of milk per day, enough to make 4.9 pounds of cheese or two pounds of butter. To produce this much milk, an average cow consumed 50 gallons of water, 20 pounds of grain and feed concentrates and 55 pounds of corn silage each day.
To most consumers, the importance of dairy products is their great taste and nutritional value. They are nutrient-dense, supplying 72 percent of the calcium available in the American diet, along with nine essential vitamins and minerals, including potassium, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B-12, as well as protein. Studies indicate that eating three to four servings of dairy per day could help lower the risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer, as well as assist with weight management.
“I encourage Virginians to celebrate Dairy Month during June,” said VDACS Commissioner Matt Lohr. “But,” he adds, “don’t stop there. Continue to enjoy the delicious taste and nutritional benefits of milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products with three or more daily servings all year long. It’s what we do at our house.”