Memories and Milestones
First, a brief summary of dairy industry evolution since the turn of the last century:
From hand milking to using robots.
From feeding skim milk to the hogs to a global multibillion-dollar dry milk protein industry.
From dumping whey in streams to a sophisticated highly technologically driven global whey protein industry.
From cows producing less than 3,500 pounds of milk per year to nearly 19,000 pounds.
From about 6,000 fluid milk plants four decades ago to about 600.
From plants processing 1 million pounds of milk per year to processing a billion pounds per year.
From a $3.14/cwt milk price support in 1949 when price supports started to a peak of $13.49/cwt in 1981.
From drinking 34 gallons of milk per person annually in 1909 to about 20 gallons.
From eating about 4 pounds of natural cheese per person annually to more than 30 pounds.
From eating less than a quart of ice cream and frozen desserts per person per year to about 22 quarts.
From home delivery to store bought and now to home again.
It was a cold November day in 1934, just before Thanksgiving, the day my family normally butchered hogs for our winter’s meat supply, when I first appeared. I was born in one of the two bedrooms of a small house on an 80 acre farm my mother and father rented in Missouri. Later, my two older sisters and I shared the bedroom.
At the age of 5, just a short 65 years ago, I milked my first cow, by hand, while sitting on a little three-legged red metal stool that my dad had lowered the legs of, to make it short enough to accommodate my 5-year-old frame. Later, milking our 30- to 40-cow herd became my responsibility until I happily left for the University of Missouri. Fortunately, Dad had purchased a milking machine.
One of my happiest moments was when Dad announced he had sold our entire dairy herd and that the last milking would be the following morning. Little did I know this was the beginning of a new career for Dad, whereby he developed and sold dairy herds. The intervals between selling and building a new one were far too short for my liking.
I didn’t know it back then, but the first federal milk marketing license (the predecessor to Federal Milk Orders) was implemented in Boston the year before I was born. In 1935, four years before milking my first cow, this early law was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court because the court held it was too vague, provided insufficient guidance to regulators, and that Congress had unconstitutionally delegated its constitutional responsibilities to the Executive Branch.
Following a series of other court cases (and still two years before milking my first cow) Congress passed the 1937 Federal Milk Marketing Act to remedy the defects of the earlier law, and the federal milk marketing order program as we know it became the law of the land. Federal milk marketing orders now classify, price, pool and regulate the marketing of more than 70 percent of total U.S. milk production.
In the early years of Dairy Field’s predecessors, public health issues were of paramount concern. In 1906, just three years after my dad was born, Congress passed the first Federal Food and Drug Act. This four-page law was replaced by what is now a 435-page law in 1938 (a year before I milked my first cow).
Milk-borne illnesses were a significant force in developing a strong public health program. The 1906 law was a humble model of the current, extensive and sophisticated dairy food safety programs.
In 1949, the year after I started high school and while I was still milking my parents’ cows, the federal price-support program was enacted. While I did not know it at the time, this law was a partial basis for my employment for many years. It, plus federal milk marketing orders, are often referred to by dairy lawyers and economists as the “dairy full-employment act”.
I invited your attention to these three laws because of their longevity and significance to all elements of the dairy industry.
While it has been fun to write these tongue-in-cheek historical anecdotes, I commend the more complete list of milk-history milestones published by IDFA in the 2004 edition of Dairy Facts.
Congratulations to Dairy Field for 100 years of service to the dairy industry, and what a great service it has been. Informing, educating, leading and sometimes cajoling an industry to achieve what it is capable of achieving is a burdensome task. Dairy Field and the Stagnito family have had a long and truly great performance. Thanks!
Tip Tipton, chairman and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based Tipton Group, is the former CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.
Faces at the forum — 2005 dairy forum
How are you taking advantage of school milk opportunities?
“We’re working more with schools to get them more familiar with the nutritional and weight-loss aspects of milk. I sent personal letters to principals and foodservice directors to explain it.”
What new products have been most successful for you?
“Brand-new ice cream flavors like Wedding Cake and Cookies Cookies Cookies. The Great Divide is the biggest surprise — chocolate and vanilla in the same half gallon. Not so much the low-carbs — it’s more niche than mainstream.”$OMN_arttitle="Memories and Milestones";?>