Editor's note: The "WMMB Link" is a monthly column authored by a dairy farmer/Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board member, designed to inform dairy producers about WMMB activities. This month's column features David Bangart, WMMB District 7 director, Viaduct Holsteins LLC, Greenwood, Wis.
Winter arrived too early for many of us. Shorter days, colder nights and snow on the ground may have even the best of us suffering already from the "winter blues." To add insult to injury, many farmers in my part of Wisconsin look out their windows or barn doors to see a half-harvested crop of corn silage, corn or soybeans. They know that under that clean blanket of snow lies the soft ground resulting from the year's excess moisture.
To put it mildly, 2014 will go down as a very challenging crop year, however, we still have much to be thankful for. We definitely were blessed with strong dairy prices, coupled with an unheard of beef market, both of which have been a boost for attitudes and profit levels. But that's not all!
Being a board member for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), I've been able to see lots of exciting things happening for America's Dairyland. And this Thanksgiving, even if it's been colder and nastier outside than it should be, I want to share three reasons to give thanks and be grateful for all the good "dairy" things in our lives:
Reason #1: Dairy's economic impact on Wisconsin keeps growing
The University of Wisconsin-Extension and the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently released new economic numbers revealing how important dairy cows are to Wisconsin. Our 1.2 million cows continue to steadily pump economic life throughout our state. Here are the latest figures:
Wisconsin's dairy industry contributes $43.4 billion a year to the state's economy (up from $26.5 billion). Breaking that down, the dairy industry fuels the state's economy at more than $82,500 per minute.
Dairy is the largest segment of Wisconsin's $88.3 billion agriculture industry, and it accounts for 19% of all Wisconsin agriculture jobs.
Dairy contributes more to Wisconsin's state economy than citrus does to Florida or potatoes to Idaho. Compare Wisconsin's dairy industry at $43.4 billion to Florida's famous citrus industry, which has an economic impact of $9 billion, or Idaho's iconic potato industry, which contributes $6.7 billion.
The impact of all our cows and dairy farmers, doing their thing every day, is huge for our state.
Reason #2: MoDairy – raising awareness and funds for men's health
At WMMB, we've been promoting MoDairy* and highlighting the importance of prostate cancer screenings for dairy producers, dairy employees, and allied industry personnel.
Did you know 92% of dairy producers are men? That means more than 8,000 producers (1 in 6) will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes in the U.S., and that doesn't account for the men who work in the parlors, fields or other segments of the dairy industry. We should not ignore these statistics. Yet, dairy producers, with their busy schedules, tend to put doctor visits low on the priority list.
Don't let prostate cancer end the life of someone you love. Please encourage the men you know to visit a doctor for a health screening.
* Visit www.facebook.com/MoDairy to learn more.
Reason #3: Grassroots efforts and the volunteers who promote our industry
WMMB supports more than 60 Wisconsin County Dairy Leader Groups. These volunteer groups help showcase and promote our amazing dairy industry in local communities across the state. Dedicated volunteers help spread positive dairy messages through local dairy promotions, farm tours and dairy education programs.
Every November, WMMB hosts conferences where dairy leaders can network and share great ideas as a group. This year's conferences, while hampered by inclement weather, were truly inspirational, as attendees left the events armed and energized to lead a statewide effort, assuring consumers that our well-earned reputation for quality products, excellent land stewardship practices and animal care is being maintained and enhanced.
This Thanksgiving, may you find many more blessings and reasons to give thanks, and celebrate this beautiful holiday with smiles in your heart.