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Posted: June 24, 2016 12:42 p.m.

The Newton County Farm Bureau celebrated National Dairy Month in June.

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The dairy industry is a crucial part of Georgia’s agriculture industry. The state of Georgia is home to approximately 83,000 head of dairy cattle, contributing more than $344 million to Georgia’s economy. Typically, dairy cows in the state of Georgia produce an average of 2,518 gallons of milk per year or approximately 8.3 gallons of milk per day!

June has been recognized as National Dairy Month since 1939. According to the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, it started out as a way to distribute extra milk during the warm months of summer.

Milk is a very important part of a healthy, balanced diet and provides three of the four nutrients lacking in the average American diet: calcium, potassium and vitamin D. The unique combination of nutrients present in milk and dairy products play key roles in preventing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis.

A common myth among the general public is that organic milk or dairy products are better for you and contain more nutrients than regular milk. However, there are numerous studies showing that organic and regular dairy products contain the same essential nutrients key to a healthy and balanced diet.

There are a ton of myths surrounding production agriculture, particularly the dairy industry. It is a myth that dairy cattle are given unnecessary antibiotics, transferring them to the milk people drink. Rigorous testing ensures antibiotics do not enter the milk supply.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate U.S. milk production and its guidelines are some of the strictest in the industrialized world. Cows are sometimes given antibiotics under conditions approved by a veterinarian. Once given antibiotics, that cow is separated from the herd. That particular animal is still milked, but all milk collected is discarded until the withdrawal period determined by the two agencies for that drug is met. The milk never reaches the consumer and is not included in any milk products. Entire truckloads of milk are tested for antibiotics and if any traces of antibiotics are found, the entire load is dumped.

Another common myth surrounding the dairy industry is the presence of hormones in milk. Some dairy farmers choose to administer small amounts of bovine somatotropin (rBST), which is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the animal’s body. The purpose of using small amounts of rBST is to aid in the efficiency of the animal’s metabolic system, helping them to produce more milk. Studies show that minimal amounts of naturally occurring hormones are found in animal and plant products, including milk. For example, a three-ounce. serving of cabbage contains 2,016 nanograms of estrogen, compared to only 15 nanograms of estrogen in an eight-ounce serving of milk.

Last, but certainly not least, is the ongoing myth that dairy cattle and other types of livestock, are mistreated. Dairy farmers strive every day to produce wholesome milk and milk products. They take excellent care of their animals, making sure that they have clean and comfortable living environments, fresh water, food and medical attention when necessary. Dairy farmers know that healthy, happy cows produce more high-quality milk, so the animals’ wellbeing is a farmer’s top priority.

For more information, contact Newton County Farm Bureau Office at (770)786-7201, and ask for Anna, or visit Southeaster United Dairy Industry Association, Inc.’s website at www.southeastdairy.org.

 

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