Who We Are
We are the dairy farm families who work hard every day caring for our animals and the land so that we can bring you – and consumers around the world – fresh, great-tasting, wholesome, and nutritious dairy products. We are dairy food companies with more than 130,000 employees nationwide dedicated to turning the nutritious milk into products like cheese, yogurt and dairy ingredients. We are the hundreds of thousands of dairy industry professionals who support a $100 billion industry that provides jobs to local communities. We are working together to help secure a bright future, providing healthy products, healthy communities and a healthy planet to future generations.
Dairy isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are.
What We Stand For
As the nation turns its attention to reducing calories and people struggle to be healthy, there is good news—dairy foods can help. Dairy foods provide substantial nutrients per calorie, helping people make their calories count. From childhood to adulthood, the dairy industry is committed to providing people with real, fresh and natural nutrient-rich foods and beverages.
According to Robert P. Heaney, MD, Professor of Medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine Natural, “It’s hard to find any other single food that will give you the levels of nutrients you get in dairy.”
For generations, the people who have brought fresh, delicious milk and other wholesome dairy foods to America’s tables also are stewards of the land and contribute to local communities and family businesses. The vast majority of dairy farms are family-owned. And, as active members of their communities, the nation’s 51,000-plus dairy farm families take pride in helping to feed our country – and the world – and doing our part to maintain natural resources. Dairy farmers are local business owners, parents, school supporters, and active members of their community, Dairy farmers and industry are a lifeline to at least 1.5 million jobs in the United States.
Dairy farmers have a long heritage as responsible stewards of the land, air, and water, enabling generation after generation to carry on their family’s tradition. Ingenuity and innovations have helped them do more with less. The entire dairy industry, from farmers and dairy food companies to distributors and retailers, has committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 25% by 2020. On December 15, 2009, the USDA recognized the work of dairy producers and the entire industry with a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). “This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting dairy farmers,” said USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
For more information about the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the people behind our products, visit www.usdairy.com.
The Dairy Value Chain: Farm to Table
Production of Feed
The dairy supply chain begins with growing crops such as corn, alfalfa hay and soybeans to feed dairy cows. About 35 percent of feed is grown on the farm by dairy farmers; the rest if purchased from other farmers.
Dairy cows are housed, fed and milked on dairy farms across the country. On average, a cow in the United States gave about 20,576 pounds of milk in 2009.
Milk is transported from farm to process company in insulated tanker trucks. The average truck carries 5,800 gallons of milk and travels approximately 500 miles round trip.
There are more than 1,000 U.S. processing plants that turn milk into cheese, yogurt, ice cream, powered milk and other products.
Packaging is typically done by the dairy processor. Both paperboard and plastic containers are designed to keep dairy products fresh, clean and wholesome.
Distribution companies deliver dairy products from the processor to retailers, schools, and other outlets in refrigerated trucks.
Milk and dairy products are available at 178,000 retail outlets of all shapes and sizes – from convenience stores and neighborhood groceries, to large discount stores and warehouse outlets.
Milk and milk products deliver nine essential nutrients to children and adults, promoting good health and well-being throughout all stages of life.
Download the PDF: The Dairy Value Chain.