Recently, Gov. Pete Ricketts proclaimed June as Dairy Month in Nebraska. The governor used the opportunity to help Nebraskans learn more about the dairy industry and its importance to the state, especially all the family-owned dairy farms.

Mike Guenther of Beemer, president of the Nebraska State Dairy Association, accepted the official proclamation on behalf of the dairy farmers.

As the association points outs, there are plenty of reasons that dairy producers choose to locate in Nebraska or expand.

Many of these reasons help other livestock industries as well. Among them, Nebraska is:

 No. 1 in irrigated acres for reliable corn supply.

 No. 2 in distillers grains production.

 No. 3 in corn production.

 No. 4 in alfalfa production.

These resources helped to contribute to a 15% increase in cow numbers since 2014 in the state, according to the association.

Nebraska also is a top 10 state in both production and revenue per dairy cow. The governor has noted that the state’s plentiful feed supplies and abundant water resources, along with our pro-agriculture policies, make Nebraska an ideal place to locate dairies.

Nebraska also is a net exporter of milk, sending 2 million pounds out of state each day. Thanks to the state’s central location, milk produced locally can reach almost every corner of the continental United States within two days.

Northeast Nebraska dairy producers also have several local processors where they can sell their milk. They include three Northeast Nebraska sites, Hiland in Norfolk, Milk Specialties Global in Norfolk and the West Point Dairy in West Point.

We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t mention some of the challenges the dairy industry has faced. Many of them are related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed schools and other institutions. That resulted in millions of gallons milk that would have been consumed weekly left without a market.

Dairy producers have adjusted their production, many people have purchased more milk, along with cheese, ice cream and other dairy products. That has boosted retail demand for milk. Also, a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill helped to make up for some of the lost industry sales.

The bottom line is that the market forces seem to be working. Some of the excess milk that would have been used by schools is working through the system, including being converted into ice cream.

Here’s hoping that the recent market rebound lasts and turns into a strong second half for our state’s dairy producers. That also will mean more smiles and enjoyable ways to cool off with ice cream during hot summer days.

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