It’s June, and that means it’s time to celebrate National Dairy Month in Wisconsin!
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, the organization that sponsors this celebratory month, describe it as “a celebration of the farmers who help define our state and make us who we are.”
Typically, June means lots of events to celebrate farmers, but current state regulations won’t allow large gatherings. So Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin has gotten creative with several virtual and drive-thru events so we won’t miss out on the fun!
Founded in 1983, The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, dba Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW), was founded to help promote the sale and consumption of dairy products from our state’s farmers. The organization is funded by farmers as well. For every 100 pounds of milk produced and marketed in Wisconsin, ten cents goes to DFW.
How Wisconsin became America’s Dairyland
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, the first generations of Wisconsin farmers attempted to grow wheat. This was successful for awhile, but eventually depleted the soil of nitrogen, and the yield from year to year became unpredictable. The varying quality and quantity of the product meant that by the 1850s, Wisconsin’s ability to sell wheat crops declined. Farming wheat became a bigger problem when chinch bugs began attacking wheat crops.
Eventually, needing a viable alternative to wheat, farmers turned to dairy, and by 1899 over 90% of Wisconsin farms owned dairy cows. The success of the industry came not only in availability, but in marketing. Many of Wisconsin’s early settlers were from New York, which, at the time, was the leading dairy producer in America. They had both the farming and marketing knowledge to create a thriving industry and pass their success down through their families. In 1890, UW-Madison added a dairy school to their campus, the first in the country, which improved upon dairy production in the state. By 1915, Wisconsin had surpassed New York as the country’s leading producer of dairy products.
Fun facts about Wisconsin dairy:
-Wisconsin has 9,520 licensed dairy farms and 1,279,000 dairy cows.
-Wisconsin produces 23,552 pounds/ 2,739 gallons of milk per cow each year!
-Wisconsin produces a quarter of America’s cheese.
-Anne Pickett of Lake Mills created the first Wisconsin cheese in 1841 by combining milk from her own cow and one of her neighbor’s cows.
-Wisconsin earned the title of “America’s Dairyland” in 1930. It was added to Wisconsin license plates in 1939.
-Of the total agricultural contribution to the Wisconsin economy, nearly half comes from dairy alone, according to the University of Wisconsin, Department of Agriculture & Applied Economics.
-96% of Wisconsin dairy farms are family-owned.
-Wisconsin makes over 600 different varieties, types, and styles of cheese.
Learn more fun facts here.
Get involved in Dairy Month!
Five ways to help Wisconsin Dairy farmers
Find a farm that sells your perfect cheese.
Try some great recipes.
Pair your favorite beverage with a great cheese.
Meet Wisconsin’s dairy farmers.
Learn more about Dairy Month and find virtual and drive-thru events.
Send your story!
Are you a SAIL Member that owned a dairy farm or worked in the Wisconsin dairy industry? We’d love to hear about your experience! Please call SAIL at 608-230-4321 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to interview you for the blog and celebrate your contribution to this huge economic driver in Wisconsin!