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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Jun 17, 2008

June is Dairy Month, and a great time to support our nation’s dairy producers.

It’s hard to think of an age at which dairy products don’t benefit us. From young children asking for a glass of milk to go with the cookie to people on diets drinking nonfat milk to everyone who loves ice cream, dairy products are something we all enjoy.

The versatility of dairy products is incredible, too. Ask the best chefs what they use for cooking, and you’ll never hear margarine mentioned. It’s always butter, of course.

Or ask a vegetarian how he or she can enjoy food. Quite often, you’ll get a recipe for squash or spinach with cheese to give it some flair.

And then there’s the dairy industry.

While dairy production has pretty much left Emmet County, that could change. The increased price of all food, dairy products included, is making dairy production more attractive.

Beyond that, though, ethanol production produces wet distillers grains as a co-product that is best digested by dairy cattle. For quite some time now, the cattle experts have talked about ethanol co-products bringing the beef industry back to Iowa. Perhaps we could do well to recruit dairies back to the region.

Wisconsin has practically trademarked its dairy industry exceedingly well. In fact, for decades, Wisconsin has used cheese production as an integral part of tourism. One could plan a week-long “tasting tour” of Wisconsin’s cheese-production facilities, and some do. It’s not a whole lot different than people taking wine tours of the Sonoma Valley or in France.

Dairy tourism also lends itself to those “real-life” experiences that are all but forgotten elements from the past. Just see how thrilled a young child gets milking a cow by hand.

Perhaps dairy tourism is something that our region could consider as it tries to tap into the tourism market. It makes use of an already-existing resource and is educational in nature, something that’s a big plus for families on tour.

It’s hard to find an area where dairy products don’t affect our lives – from what we eat to recreation to the impact on our economy in general.

So the next time you have a glass of milk or slice of cheese or dish of ice cream, thank the dairy farmers who made it all possible.