June 03, 2013

Director of Agriculture Kicks Off Dairy Month in St. Louis

Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Dr. Jon Hagler kicked off Dairy Month today with a visit to Prairie Farms Dairy to recognize Missouri dairy farmers and Missouri's dairy industry. The 93,000 dairy cattle across Missouri's dairy farms produce nearly 1.4 billion pounds, or almost 170 million gallons, of milk each year. Dairy facilities statewide, such as Prairie Farms' Hazelwood plant, use that milk to produce more than $4.4 billion worth of dairy products each year.

"Missouri's dairy industry is a vital part of our economy as well as Missourians daily lives," said Dr. Hagler. "Our dairy producers and processors employ thousands of Missourians, providing nutritious, safe wholesome products from milk and cheese to ice-cream, yogurt and other dairy products."

Prairie Farms' Hazelwood facility receives milk from producers in eastern, central and southern Missouri each day to produce a variety of dairy products, including flavored milks and ice-cream. The facility also serves as a distribution hub, getting those products to stores throughout the region. In addition, in November of last year, Prairie Farms became the preferred dairy supplier for the St. Louis Rams.

"Regardless of whether that milk is going to your family dinner table or to the Rams' training facility, the State Milk Board inspected the 1,348 dairy farms and 43 dairy processing facilities where it originated to maintain wholesome, stable, and high-quality dairy product assurance," said Gene Wiseman, Executive Secretary of the State Milk Board.

The State Milk Board was created in 1972 to encourage orderly and sanitary production, transportation, processing and grading of fluid milk and processed milk products for consumption intrastate as well as interstate.

Missouri's dairy industry directly employs more than 5,500 residents, supports more than 23,000 jobs statewide, and contributes $2 billion to Missouri's gross domestic product annually, according to the University of Missouri Extension.

Today's event in Hazelwood also kicked off a series of events recognizing a very big anniversary for Prairie Farms Dairy.

"2013 marks the 75th Anniversary of our cooperative. Dairy Month is a great time to celebrate our rich history and to honor our farm families and employees who work hard every day to provide wholesome, nutritious milk to our communities. This month, we are hosting celebrations in 17 cities throughout the Midwest. The final event will be held at the St. Louis Zoo on June 29th and we are looking forward to sharing our story with the community," said Ed Mullins, CEO and Executive Vice President of Prairie Farms Dairy.

For more information on Missouri's milk and dairy production, visit the Missouri Department of Agriculture online at mda.mo.gov. To learn more about Prairie Farms Dairy, visit them online at prairiefarmsdairy.com.