For the past several years, dairy farmers have been facing tough economic conditions, which continue through today. According to statistics, fluid milk consumption continues to decline. What can be done to support dairy farmers and increase milk consumption? Ty Higgins, a broadcaster with the Ohio Ag Net, encourages consumers to support dairy farmers by purchasing and then donating 10 gallons of milk to their local food bank. For those who want to accept that challenge, and/or step up their consumption of milk, we are fortunate here in Wayne County to have several dairy businesses that process and bottle local milk.
Smith Foods located in Orrville has a long history of putting dairy products on the grocery shelf including a range of fluid milk products. Organic Valley has a considerable number of Wayne and Holmes County dairy farms certified for organic production that provide milk for its products. In addition, we have two other dairy businesses here in Wayne County that are providing alternative milk products. Those businesses are Hartzler Family Dairy and Green Field Farms. Both of these businesses are processing and providing non-homogenized milk in returnable glass bottles. For anyone who grew up on a dairy farm, this harkens back to the type of milk product you grew up drinking.
While the Hartzler’s milk brand has been around since 1996, Green Fields Farms milk is a relatively new business, opening their Fredericksburg milk processing plant in June of 2018. Currently Green Field Farms partners with Organic Valley for its milk supply. One of the goals of Green Field Farms is to make small-scale dairy farming a sustainable practice for the horse farming communities of Amish and conservative Mennonite people.
The next time you are grocery shopping, make sure to include milk on the list and maybe even consider the 10-gallon challenge to support dairy farmers and some of these local brands.
Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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