Celebrating Dairy at Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers

There’s a lot to celebrate as temperatures get warmer, the fireflies twinkle at night, and memories are made outside.  Dairy is one of them. The U.S. has celebrated National Dairy Month since 1937. While dairy is affordable, nutritious, and accessible, it also keeps our economy strong.  According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), dairy delivers 3.3 million American jobs, more than 500 of them supported by our cooperative, and has a $753 billion economic impact on our economy.

Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers (MDVA) has celebrated many milestones in recent weeks. These milestones provide a clear picture that we are a cooperative that’s living our mission and sticking to our core values.

We steward the communities in our midst.

Day one of National Dairy Month brought about a special milk donation event for MDVA. Moala Local Dairies, owned and operated by MDVA, donated over 385 half gallons of milk to the South River Food Pantry, part of the South River Baptist Church, on behalf of local MDVA dairy farmer-owners Grayhouse Farms of Stony Point, North Carolina.

As 2020 Producer of the Year, MDVA member Jimmy and Andy Gray chose to use their award to give back. Grayhouse Farms, like so many of our dairy farmer member-owners, work hard to care for their farm, their families, and their local community.

We provide top-notch customer service.

Our customer service has enabled us to launch new products. Maola Local Dairies launched Maola Half & Half and Heavy Whipping Cream to 19 new Costco warehouses over the last two months. Costco members can now support their local dairy farmers by purchasing Maola Half & Half and Heavy Whipping Cream at warehouses located in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia.

These two new products join our delicious Whole Chocolate Milk currently available in 19 warehouse stores throughout Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Our public-private partnerships prove that long-term sustainability can be achieved.

Our dairy farmers don’t skim on sustainability. As we celebrate National Dairy Month as a cooperative, we are thrilled to work with our partners at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to expand our sustainability investments to our Virginia farm families through a $1 million grant from National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

This grant adds to the more than $7 million in grants we have received through our partnerships. Our member farms are family farms — they care for their herd, their land and their future for the next generation.

Our investments for Maryland producers are also growing by more than $700 thousand through a recent Animal Waste Technology Fund grant from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.”

Sustainability is critical to ensure MDVA members can continue the legacy of delivering dairy goodness to tables across our milkshed for decades to come.

We have outstanding members with integrity and long-term perspective.

MDVA Members David and Marie Graybill of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania recently achieved national recognition as “Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability” by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Not only is it the first time a MDVA member has received this award, it’s the first time a small farm has achieved this level of recognition. The Graybill’s also received our first-ever Producer of the Year award.

The Graybills have implemented more than 30 conservation practices – including buffer strips, contour farming, enhanced wildlife habitat, and structural improvements such as enhanced manure storage and stormwater diversions – designed to make the farm an environmental and economic asset. Forty-five honeybee colonies now call Red Sunset Farm home and the Graybill’s dedication to conservation is estimated to reduce annual losses of nitrogen and phosphorus by 2,443 and 116 pounds respectively.

You can join the celebration.

We encourage all of you to celebrate dairy with us this month. Regional and checkoff groups like the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence, American Dairy Association North East, and our own members are joining the celebration.

The Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence is encouraging others to share their “why” on social media and help the next generation of dairy producers, agriculture teachers, and dairy advocates find their “why.”  One action you could take is posting a fun dairy-based photo explaining why you’re passionate about dairy. Include #whatsyourwhy and #JuneDairyMonth to your social media post.

American Dairy Association North East is sharing #30farmers30days for National Dairy Month. They’ve featured MDVA members Chris and Laura Landis and their no-till practices and Shelby Green of Coldsprings Farm for her milk donation efforts.

Member Crystal Stambaugh Edwards of Westminster, Maryland is telling her dairy story through more than 20 social media posts this month. Crystal is sharing the farm practices at Pheasant Echo’s from vaccinations to artificial insemination, to how cows are milked using new technologies.

We encourage you to tag us (@MDVAMilk) in your social posts so that we can share your story.

Thank you for joining us as we celebrate the goodness of dairy this month. Lucky for us, the celebration will not end in June. July brings us an opportunity to celebrate the chillier side of dairy with National Ice Cream Month.