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Thank your dairy farmers

ST. PAUL -- In Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's State of the State address in February, he spoke of a new emphasis on working with the state's business leaders to create more good jobs for Minnesotans. As we celebrate June Dairy Month this year, it's...

ST. PAUL -- In Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton's State of the State address in February, he spoke of a new emphasis on working with the state's business leaders to create more good jobs for Minnesotans. As we celebrate June Dairy Month this year, it's worth pointing out that in addition to providing quality food for Minnesotans, our dairy sector also is answering the governor's call by providing quality jobs and economic activity for the state.

Nearly 4,500 farm families produce milk and other dairy products in Minnesota. Together, these family farms provide us with more than 1 billion gallons of milk and other dairy products each year. Those numbers are impressive enough, but when you factor in the related economic impacts and activity generated by this milk production, the true impact of Minnesota dairy farmers comes into focus.

When all impacts are factored in, Minnesota's dairy sector supports 40,000 jobs around the state. The dairy sector also generates an amazing $11.5 billion in total economic impact for the state. Breaking it down a bit more, the average dairy cow in Minnesota has a total economic impact of nearly $25,000. That's a lot of impact for any animal, even one that can weigh more than a 1,000 pounds. And the economic impact isn't just about Main Street. Dairy production also benefits other farmers by providing a steady market for locally grown corn and other feed. This creates stronger demand and higher values for Minnesota crops.

Industry support

I am proud of our dairy industry, and I am proud that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture plays a significant role in supporting our dairy industry in the state. For example:

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n Our livestock development team helps dairy farmers with issues such as facility siting and permitting.

- Our ag marketing services team promotes Minnesota dairy products at home and abroad.

- Our MFAN program and the Farm Advocate Program provide support and assistance to dairy farmers facing financial and personal difficulties.

- Our Dairy and Food Inspection Division helps protect consumer confidence by providing effective and fair inspection and regulation of dairy farms, processors and retailers.

- The state's Rural Finance Authority, housed within MDA, provides low-interest loans to beginning dairy farmers and other farmers eager to be a part of the state's bright future.

If Minnesota is to have a healthy economy going forward, it's going to take a team effort. Building a stronger state economy can't just be a priority for Dayton, legislators and other government officials. It must be a priority for all of us -- farmers, teachers, Main Street business owners, Fortune 500 CEOs, public and private sector employees, consumers and voters.

And while we all have an important role to play, during June Dairy Month I hope Minnesotans will join me in thanking our dairy farmers for the super-sized contribution they make to our economy and our quality of life.

Editor's Note: Frederickson is Minnesota's commissioner of agriculture.

Related Topics: CROPSDAIRY
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