Grants awarded to promote dairy farming

By ANITA FRITZ, The Recorder, July 25, 2019

Many people may not realize how dairy farmers struggle, but a couple of local agencies have received grants to help them educate the public about the dairy industry.

The governor’s administration, along with the state Department of Agriculture and Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board, recently awarded Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture in South Deerfield a $30,750 grant and the Association of Dairy Farmers in Conway a $34,100 grant. The money comes from a fund to which dairy farmers across the state contribute.

According to Darryl Williams, treasurer of the Association of Dairy Farmers, 10 cents from every 100 pounds of milk produced by a Massachusetts dairy farmer goes into the fund, which then awards grants for generic milk promotion.

CISA will use the grant to compile research about how much it costs local dairy farmers to produce milk and how much of a return they see, according to Communications Director Claire Morenon. She said the research will then be used by dairy advocates to promote milk and find solutions to some of the challenges the dairy farmers face.

“It will help CISA educate the public about the value of dairy agriculture and products,” she said. Morenon said the agency will be working with partners across the state — ones that have similar goals of buying local and highlighting the challenges and contributions of dairy farmers.

A lot of milk is produced and then sold into wholesale markets, Morenon said. The milk produced in Massachusetts represents 20 percent of the milk people end up with in their refrigerators. Wholesalers sell the milk throughout the Northeast, combining all of it.

“Buying milk is a good way for people to support Massachusetts dairy farmers,” she said. “When you go into any store and buy milk, there’s some Massachusetts milk in every gallon.”

The Association for Dairy Farmers in Conway will use its grant to build brand awareness of its Splash of Mass in Every Glass promotion. The association is dedicated to advancing the interests of the dairy industry and dairy farmers, encouraging and promoting them.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2017 census, the state is home to 115 dairy farms on a total of 49,744 acres of farmland — about 29 of those are in Franklin County. Those farms produce roughly 201 million pounds of milk used to make cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter and milk each year.

State Sen. Anne Gobi, who represents Athol, said dairy farmers, especially, have faced a number of hardships, so the grants will have a positive impact on them.

“We can all help support our farms and farmers by buying local,” Gobi said, “and encouraging family and friends to do the same.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or a f r i t z @recorder.c o m