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Thank a farmer during June

it's dairy month

June 14, 2011|By JEFF SEMLER | jsemler@umd.edu
  • From left, Terry Baker, president of the Washington County Commissioners; Tessa Wiles, Maryland State Dairy Princess; Macayla Wiles, Washington County Dairy Maid; and Carole DeBaugh, Washington County Dairy Maid.
Submitted photo

As many of you know, June is National Dairy Month, the month we celebrate all things dairy, dairy cows, dairy products and dairy farmers. Beyond the farm gate, dairy farmers contribute so much more than milk to our community.

Washington County is home to more than 11,000 dairy cows and more than 140 farms that care for them. This makes the county second only to Frederick County in the state of Maryland. Our farms average about 80 cows per herd.

We all know that our farms produce milk, but did you know that dairy farms are also heavily vested in the beef industry. A great deal of dairy beef goes into the hotel/restaurant trade, especially those steamship rounds that are hand carved at banquets and buffets. Of course, you know that dairy cows account for tons of ground beef, sausage, bologna and hot dogs.

In addition, dairy farms like all segments of farming produce what is called a multiplier effect in the local economy. A multiplier is merely the ratio of total activity to the direct (the farm level) activity. For every $1 worth of output at the farm level, there was 38 cents in output in the rest of the county economy for a total of $1.38. For every $1 in labor income, 45 cents in additional labor income is supported elsewhere.

However, what most people like about our farms is the idyllic atmosphere it gives to our county. Everyone loves the amber waves of grain and the corn standing in rows like soldiers on watch. Peaceful cows and calves grazing in the field and it is nice to live in a county where the birth of a new calf stops traffic.

Last Tuesday, the Washington County Commissioners recognized the dairy farmers of Washington County by proclaiming June as Dairy Month in the county. While proclamations are mostly symbolic, I truly believe our commissioners understand the impact dairy farming and agriculture have on the economy and character of our county.

 So if you see a farmer, thank them and if you see a commissioner, thank them, too. And if you like this month all I can say is wait until July because that is National Ice Cream Month — yum.

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by email at jsemler@umd.edu.

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