LANSING, Mich. – June is Dairy Month, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed June 12, 2012, as Dairy Day in Michigan to help celebrate dairy farmers’ and dairy product processors’ commitment to healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet.
To celebrate the contribution the dairy industry makes to the state, Michigan government officials will join former Detroit Lions defensive tackle and two-time Pro Bowler Luther Elliss at the State Capitol on June 12 for Dairy Day at the Capitol. Elliss will lead third grade to sixth grade students from Oak Park YMCA Summer Camp program and the DeWitt K.I.D.S. program in a flash workout session on the Capitol building steps. Elliss will also emphasize the importance of participating in 60 minutes of physical activity each day and choosing nutrient-rich foods like low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains to improve their overall health and help fight childhood obesity.
Michigan’s dairy farmers and processors are avid supporters of Governor Snyder's 4x4 Plan for Health and Wellness to help fight childhood obesity. According to United Dairy Industry of Michigan registered dietitian Amy Viselli, consuming more nutrient-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, helps nourish the body and build strong bones and can help people get back on track to a healthy lifestyle.
“Milk is the No. 1 source of nine essential nutrients for children ages two to 18. In fact, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines milk – both white and flavored – is the No. 1 food source for three of the four nutrients Americans need to consume more of – vitamin D, calcium and potassium,” she says. “From childhood to adulthood, the dairy industry is committed to providing real, fresh and natural nutrient-rich foods and beverages, including milk, cheese and yogurt.”
Studies have shown that incorporating three servings of nutrient-rich dairy foods in your diet on a daily basis can help reduce the risk for chronic illnesses, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Not to mention that dairy foods offer high nutrition and economic value,” Viselli adds. “Few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse package of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way. For example, at a cost of about 25 cents per glass, milk is a nutritional bargain.”
In addition to providing consumers with a healthy, safe and nutritious product, dairy farming is the top ranking segment of Michigan’s second-largest industry, agriculture, and contributes $5.9 billion to the state’s economy annually. In 2011, dairy cows in Michigan produced nearly 8.5 billion pounds of milk, which is the equivalent of 1.06 billion gallons of milk. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 98 percent of Michigan dairy farms are family-owned and –operated, sometimes by multiple generations of a family.
Dairy Day at the Capitol will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the south lawn of the Capitol building in Lansing. In addition to the exercise session led by Luther Elliss, a number of dairy organizations will be present with displays and samples. The event is open to the public.
The Michigan Dairy Foods Association (MDFA), a trade and membership service organization representing all aspects of the dairy processing industry in Michigan, has sponsored and organized Dairy Day at the Capitol for more than 20 years.
“This annual event is an opportunity to expand awareness of and knowledge about the state’s dairy processing industry and promote the health benefits of incorporating low-fat or fat-free dairy products into our daily diets,” says Tom Davis, general manager of Prairie Farms Dairy and MDFA spokesperson.
Dairy companies participating in this year’s event are: Calder Dairy and Farm; Country Dairy; Country Fresh; Dairy Farmers of America; Farm Country Cheese House, Inc.; Hudsonville Ice Cream; Leprino Foods; Mead Johnson Nutrition; Michigan Dairy; Michigan Dairy Foods Association; Michigan Farm Cheese Dairy; Michigan Milk Producers Association; MOO-ville Quality Creamery; Prairie Farms; Quality Dairy; Thomas Organic Creamery; the United Dairy Industry of Michigan; and Zingerman’s Creamery.