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California is the leading milk producer in the United States, accounting for one-fifth of the nation’s supply. With the current economic climate, Governor Schwarzenegger’s proclamation says, “The dairy industry plays a significant role in strengthening California’s economy.” Now more than ever the governor encourages Californians to buy local milk and dairy products to support the nearly 2,000 dairy families that work hard to make economic contributions to the state.
“The official proclamation of June as Real California Milk Month in California is a special celebration for the dairy industry and California consumers because 2009 also marks our 40th anniversary,” said Stan Andre, chief executive officer of the CMAB. “The CMAB was formed in 1969 as a vehicle to promote California dairy products to consumers. While these economic times are extremely trying for our dairy farmers, we’re pleased that the dairy industry has seen steady growth over the last 40 years, creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in sales and helping California become the nation’s leading dairy producer.”
Andre adds that Californians often express their desire to purchase local food products and to eat healthy, and this proclamation is meant to encourage them to do so – not just in June but also year-round.
The CMAB introduced the Real California Milk seal in 2007 in response to research indicating that seven out of 10 Californians prefer to purchase locally produced milk for their families. In fact, two-thirds stated they would go to a different store to find locally produced milk. The seal helps consumers identify milk that comes from California dairy farms as well as other dairy products, including butter, ice cream and yogurt, which are produced exclusively with California milk.
Often touted for promoting good bone health, the New York State Dietetic Association recently announced milk and yogurt as two of the top five “functional foods” that offer distinct health benefits. The NYSDA says the calcium and Vitamin D in low-fat milk are “instrumental in lowering high blood pressure, helping with regular heartbeat and building strong bones.” Low-fat yogurt with probiotics, which literally means ''for life,'' also made the list because of its help in digestion and immune function.
As the leading agricultural commodity in California, the dairy industry generated $61.4 billion in economic impact in 2007. In addition to being the nation’s largest milk producer, California also produces more butter, ice cream, yogurt and non-fat dry milk than any other state.