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Michigan's Capitol celebrates dairy industry

LANSING, MI -- The Michigan dairy industry rolled out the red carpet for Dairy Foods Awareness Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, June 10, on the lawn in front of the State Capitol. Everyone was invited to taste the tempting treats of Greek yogurt, sweet ice cream and creamy cheeses in celebration of June Dairy Month.

Sponsored by the Michigan Dairy Foods Association the event observed the impact Michigan's local dairy industry has on the state's economy and the role it plays in feeding its citizens. With nearly ninety processors represented, among the distributors handing out free treats were the Michigan State University Dairy Store, Ashby's Sterling Ice Cream and Hudsonville Ice Cream.

Michigan State Representative and lifelong dairy farmer Ed McBroom was on hand to shine the spotlight on Michigan's dairy industry and to introduce the headliner of the event former Detroit Lions player Herman Moore.

A four-time NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver, Moore stood in front of the crowd with a bowl of ice cream and expressed his support of Michigan's dairy farmers and the importance of the industry to the state's economy. He also emphasized the importance of dairy in a well-balanced diet and in the fight against obesity.

While lines formed for the free dairy delights, several Michigan Dairy Ambassadors were on hand to communicate the importance of dairy in the diet and bring a stronger connection between consumer and producer while answering questions about the dairy industry.

Natalie Horning grew up on a dairy farm in Manchester, MI, and was one of the Michigan Dairy Ambassadors involved with the promotional event. "I think the biggest challenge facing the dairy industry is the gap between the farmer and the consumer." Horning said she would like to help close that gap by being available to answer questions and promote the dairy industry through her position as one of the Michigan Dairy Ambassadors. One day Horning has hopes of becoming an agriculture teacher so she can educate those generations that have had little exposure to the farm.

Michigan's dairy industry is one of the largest segments of the state's agriculture and tourism industry and it contributes $14.7 billion to the state's economy annually.

Milk is a locally produced product: milk sold for consumption in Michigan is produced in Michigan and surplus milk is exported to other states.

Dairy farming in Michigan is about supporting and promoting family businesses and entrepreneurship. About 97 percent of Michigan dairy farms are family-owned and -operated, often by more than one generation.

Michigan ranks 7th nationally for total milk production and 5th nationally for average milk production per cow.