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Talking dairy farming ahead of World Milk Day

Talking dairy farming ahead of World Milk Day

June is recognized as Dairy Month

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

June is recognized as Dairy Month, and June 1 is celebrated as World Milk Day.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations established World Milk Day in 2001 to recognize the importance of milk as a global food, and to celebrate the dairy sector.

In the United States, 24 states including California, Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota, contribute significantly to the U.S. dairy industry.

In 2022, the dairy industry produced about 226.6 billion pounds of milk.

In honor of World Milk Day, connected with two New York dairy farmers to discuss what the day means to them, what sustainability looks like on their farms and what consumers should know when they choose to drink milk.

Stuart Ziehm (SZ) if a fourth-generation dairy farmer who co-owns Tiashoke Farm in Buskirk, N.Y., with his brothers. The farm includes 1,100 dairy cows and 2,000 acres of land they use to grow hay and corn for the cows.

Kendra Lamb (KL) and her family raise about 2,400 cows on Lamb Farms in Oakfield, N.Y. They also raise all the forages they need to feed their herd. As a dairy farmer, what does World Milk Day mean to you?

SZ: It’s great to have some time set aside to focus on dairy and celebrate its goodness. I hope that these days of recognition help raise consumer awareness and understanding of the responsibility and due diligence dairy farmers put into producing a healthy, safe and wholesome product on store shelves. 

KL: It’s a special day to bring attention to the fact that milk is a really nutritious and affordable food. What are one or two practices you implement on your farm to help with sustainability?

SZ: For years, we have been focused on the health and well-being of the cow – making her more comfortable and productive while constantly improving the nutrition she receives. Most recently, our farm has been focused on soil health.  We are planting more cover crops and utilizing the power of photosynthesis to maximize the carbon cycle. It’s amazing how much more we keep learning about the soil, and all that it provides for us.

KL: On our farm, sustainability looks like low tillage practices to reduce the loss of soil nutrients. We also use a methane digester to convert cow manure into biogas that is used to heat homes in our community. And there’s a lot of recycling that happens on the farm that’s intrinsic to what we do every day. When a consumer drinks milk on World Milk Day, what do you want them to know about how the dairy is produced and why they should have confidence in the dairy sector?

SZ: As a dairy farmer, our number one job is to produce healthy milk while caring for our cattle and the environment that surrounds them.  Everything we do on a day-to-day basis helps us get to that goal. So, whether it is working with our cows to make them healthier and more comfortable, training and empowering our employees to be good caretakers, improving the soil and harvesting high quality crops, surrounding ourselves with sound experts and coaches to keep a fresh set of eyes on our operation or simply maintaining a positive and supportive work environment for all – everything we do helps us produce a better product. While consumers don’t need to understand all the intricacies we do on a daily basis, I do hope they understand how much we care for what we do. It is not only our job, but our responsibility to do all of these things well.

KL: I want them to know what we as dairy farmers want to tell our stories. Telling someone what we do doesn’t have the same impact as if a consumer sees it for themselves. We want consumers to meet us, visit our farms, see our cows and ask questions. We are farmers who care, we are family farmers, and we produce high quality products that we feed our families and we take great pride in that.

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