Dairy cows

In the United States, June is “Dairy Month.” It was started in 1937 by grocer organizations as a way to promote the sale of milk during the warm summer months, and became nationally celebrated in 1939. It is a tradition that has continued for decades. Today, June is a time to promote the dairy industry and to remind consumers 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.

Life is about choices. When it comes to milk, if you can afford it, there are a lot of choices for the American consumer. Dairy milk, along with almond, soy, oat, and rice “milk” are readily available in most stores across the U.S. The way I look at it, if you buy and consume any of the above, you are supporting a farmer who is trying to make a living. So, I don’t care if you choose an alternative milk product over dairy milk. That is your prerogative, just as it is mine to drink milk from dairy cows.

I’ve always made the argument that milk means mammary. I went to the internet to look up the definition of milk, and I was surprised. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defined milk as 1A — a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young; 1B — milk from an animal and especially a cow used as food by people; or a food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow’s milk. There goes that argument out the window.

If you are choosing one of these milk alternatives for reasons other than allergy problems, what are they? In the land of many choices, there are just as many advertising campaigns trying to get you to buy their product. Many of these campaigns imply that dairy milk is bad or wrong and their product is better. In the case of Ripple, an alternative made from yellow peas, even other plant-based alternatives are not safe from their attack advertising. “Dairy-free. As it should be.” Growing almonds and cattle “contribute to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.” “Drinking Ripple will lower your carbon footprint.”

I can’t say that I am thrilled with all of the advertisements for dairy milk either. There was an ad for “Happy Cows” in California. And the one for Dairy Pure Milk that claimed they have an “Exclusive 5-Point Purity Promise,” which by USDA regulations all milk has. This is the ad that would make my children so mad they would yell at the TV and change the channel. What about the sale at the grocery store?

Is there room in the market for milk and “milk?” Maybe, maybe not. It is unfortunate the dairy industry has a very small profit margin. With the increasing availability of plant-based alternatives and pressure from anti-animal agriculture organizations, and marginal profits, many dairy farmers are having to consider their options.

Most of you who follow this column know dairy farming is near and dear to my heart. I appreciate all farmers and am glad when they are competitive in the market. There are hard working families on small, mid-sized and large farms across the U.S. who appreciate consumers buying their products. Thank God for the farmers who do what they do so you can make the choices you do.

But hey, June is Dairy Month, so please buy some dairy products. Milk — it does a body good!

Submitted by Mary Smallsreed, a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau who grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.


OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
The plan we are on is great. It’s comparable to my previous job's plan, and we are a sole proprietor.
Kevin Holy's avatar
Kevin Holy

Geauga County Farm Bureau

Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan
We work terrifically with the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, hosting at least one to two outreach town hall events every year to educate new farmers and existing farmers on traditional CAUV and woodlands.
David Thomas's avatar
David Thomas

Ashtabula County Auditor

CAUV: Past, present and future
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Suggested Tags: