June Dairy Month started out as a way to distribute extra milk during the warm months of summer. The commemoration was established in 1937 by grocer organizations sponsoring “National Milk Month.” By 1939, June became the official “dairy month.”

This June, celebrate National Dairy Month with your favorite dairy treat. National Dairy Month now acts as a reminder of the health benefits that dairy products provide. They contain essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein. They also reduce the risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers, while helping us to better manage our weight. Kick start each day with nutrient-rich dairy products and start your summer on a healthy note.

Whether it’s in coffee, cereal or smoothies, adding one more serving of milk to your family’s day can help ensure they get the nutrients they need to build strong bones and teeth. Trusted for decades, dairy farm families pride themselves on producing wholesome dairy foods that help their families grow up strong and healthy.

Here are some facts about the benefits of including dairy in your diet. First, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which reinforces the importance of consuming three daily servings of dairy foods like milk and cheese.

The new DGA guidelines propose three different healthy eating patterns and dairy foods are a part of all three. Dairy is also highlighted for providing three of the four nutrients that are typically lacking in American diets: calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

Dairy’s unique combination of nutrients plays key roles in preventing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Dairy is important for building strong bones and teeth. When planning meals, choose milk, cheese and yogurt, all of which are excellent sources of calcium, vitamin D and potassium to help fuel your body.

Cow’s milk offers a superior nutrient package over alternative beverages such as soy, almond, rice or coconut. Fat-free cow’s milk contains 15 fewer calories per glass, 70 percent more potassium and almost twice as much protein as many calcium-fortified soy beverages.

Most milk alternative drinks have only half the nutrients of real milk and cost nearly twice as much.  Both organic and regular dairy foods contain the same essential nutrients key to a healthy and balanced diet. People who are sensitive to lactose can consume dairy foods that are lactose-reduced or lactose-free.

On the farm, dairy farming is a family tradition, one that has been a way of life for many generations. Ninety-eight percent of dairy farms are family owned and operated. Dairy farmers are dedicated and take pride in caring for their cows by working closely with veterinarians to keep their cows healthy and comfortable. Dairy cows receive regular checkups, vaccinations and prompt medical treatment.

Dairy farmers work hard to provide your family with the same safe and wholesome dairy foods they give to their children. Dairy farmers follow strict Food and Drug Administration guidelines and process all dairy foods in a safe environment. Despite rising fuel and feed costs, milk continues to be a great value at about 25 cents per 8-ounce glass.

It is no secret that dairy farming is a competitive and tough business at present, but we can do our part.  By including more dairy products into our daily diets, we can all help to balance the supply and demand that affects our farmers’ bottom lines. Happy June Diary Month to each of you.

Upcoming Events

June 17-21--Smyth County 4-H Camp.

June 21--Deadline to Consign Calves to July 17 VQA Sale.

June 24-27--Kentucky State Ag Agents Meeting, Owensboro.

July 17--VQA Sale, 7 p.m., Tri State Livestock Market.

July 19--Deadline to Consign Calves to August VQA Sale.

July 2--VQA Steer Take Up.

July 22--Wool Pool Take Up Day, Wytheville, 2-4 p.m.

July 24--VQA Heifer Take Up.

July 29-30--Rich Valley Fair Livestock Shows.

July 30--Wool Pool Take Up, Russell County, 10- 11:30 a.m.

July 31--Wool Pool Take Up, Tazewell, 8-10 a.m.

Aug. 21--VQA Sale.

Aug. 22--Forage Field Day at Glade Research Farm.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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