Despite the seasonal pressures to buy, buy, and buy, the holidays are best as a season for giving. Yes, that means solicitations – deserving charities fill mailboxes, and earnest pleas to remember the less fortunate have become staples of the holiday season.
But for many people in less-wealthy parts of the world, the property for which they can be most thankful is something people in rich nations take for granted: Dairy cows. For all the disparagement it receives in some, more affluent quarters, the fact is that dairy provides livelihoods and nutrition to hundreds of millions of people, many of them poorer, worldwide. Dairy lifts people from poverty and protects them from hunger. Dairy gives women jobs and sends girls to school. Dairy supports ecosystems and connects farmers to markets.
Stepping outside first-world problems for a moment, here for the holidays are a few thoughts on dairy’s global reach, and why we should be thankful for dairy farmers worldwide. (Thank you to Global Dairy Platform, an industry partnership that demonstrates dairy’s contribution to global food systems, healthy diets and sustainable livelihoods, for sharing data and graphics.)
The world is home to about 133 million dairy farms, with about 600 million people living on those farms. Another 400 million additional people work full-time jobs throughout dairy’s value chain That means more than roughly 1 in 8 people on the planet – 1 billion – are economically supported by dairy.
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