Dairy producers marginal insurance premium assistance is to help provide stability against major market downturns for those dairy producers who are participating in the federal marginal protection program under the U.S. farm bill of 2014. Under Missouri’s program, producers are eligible to purchase additional insurance protection. Basically, this program works like crop insurance, helping the insured to protect against significant price drops in the market, thus allowing the producers more consistency in pricing.
HB 259 also establishes the Missouri Dairy Scholars Program that is to be administered by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. It is for eligible students in agriculture-related programs who make a commitment to work in our state’s agriculture industry following graduation. The Department will make available 80 scholarships in the amount of $5,000 each to assist with costs of tuition at a Missouri 2- or 4-year college or university. To be eligible for these scholarships, recipients must agree to work in the agriculture industry in Missouri for at least two years for every year for which they receive the scholarship. Furthermore, they are required to work on a dairy farm during a three-month internship for each year they receive the scholarship.
Finally, the bill requires the University of Missouri’s Commercial Agriculture Program to conduct an annual study of the state’s dairy industry and to develop a specific plan for how to grow and enhance both the production and the processing industry in our state. All portions of this bill will be subject to yearly appropriations from the General Assembly. Growing the production side of the industry will help maintain the processing side of the dairy industry, something that creates approximately 25,000 dairy-related jobs in our state.
June is Dairy Month. Begun in 1937 as a way to recognize the dairy industry for its many contributions to our country, the national Dairy Month designation has now been around for 78 years. In 1937, the first theme of Dairy Month was “Keep Youthful—Drink Milk.” Today’s 2015 theme is “Get More With Milk.” This designation has brought together an alliance of dairy producers, processors, distributors, and retailers, all working together to promote the industry. Emphasis has traditionally been placed on promotion of dairy products, except during the war years when the industry placed its emphasis on supporting the war effort.
This past week, I was a part of recognizing the month of June as Dairy Month in Missouri. A proclamation was given to the Missouri Dairy Association by the Director of Agriculture on the behalf of Governor Jay Nixon. Each year the proclamation of June is Dairy Month is given at a different dairy farm across our state. This year, that recognition was made at the University of Missouri’s Foremost Dairy Research Center north of Columbia, a farm named after a bull purchased by Missouri’s own J.C. Penney—Langwater Foremost—and that cost Penney $20,000 in the 1920’s. Penney donated a herd of prize-winning Guernsey cows and money to purchase an 819-acre farm for the University. Today Foremost Dairy Farm is a “living laboratory” and a key center of activity, including, research, teaching, and an extension program for the division of Animal Sciences and the food-animal sector of the “College of Veterinary Medicine. The farm houses roughly 420 head of dairy cattle, the majority of which are Holsteins but which also still includes some Guernseys from the bloodline of the original stock donated by Penney. Currently, the farm is milking just under 200 head of cows.
Milk and dairy products are among the most regulated foods in the nation. Dairy farms and processing plants must meet stringent safety requirements and are inspected regularly (most often unannounced) by state, federal, and local officials. Good milk quality starts with healthy and clean cows, and strict standards govern how they are housed, fed, and medically treated.
Dairy producers take a great deal of pride in the quality of the products they produce. This summer as you enjoy that next bowl of ice cream or that tall, cold glass of milk, keep in mind not only how good it is, but also how much the dairy industry means to our state and its economy.