Dairy Council of California said a dairy station was added to the spring and fall school tours of the 3.5-acre California State Fair Kaiser Permanente Farm for 2018. Dairy Council of California developed the dairy unit thanks to a grant from the CalAgPlate Grant Program. The program uses funds from the sale of specialized agriculture-themed license plates through the California Department of Motor Vehicles to promote agricultural education and leadership activities for students at the kindergarten through 12th grade, post-secondary and adult education levels.

The curriculum includes the importance of dairy consumption and dairy farming. Kids also experience hand-milking a cow with "Cali" the mechanical cow, donated by the California Milk Advisory Board, Sacramento-based Dairy Council of California said.

Milk is California's top agricultural product, and nearly 20% of the nation's milk supply comes from California. Dairy makes an important contribution to California's economy and provides many health benefits for schoolchildren and adults, Dairy Council of California noted.

"California leads the nation in the number of unique products our farmers and growers produce," said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. "We are delighted to know that the AgPlate funds were put to good use ensuring that our schoolchildren get access to dairy education and nutrition at The Farm." 

Last year, more than 3,800 elementary students participated in tours of the farm with their teachers, parents and siblings, with even more attendance projected for the 2018–2019 school year. Spring 2018 tours of the farm run from April 9 to May 17, and fall tours from Sept. 10 to Oct. 18.

"The new dairy station is a prime example of how Dairy Council of California seeks to educate California's children and parents more times and more ways," said Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO of Dairy Council of California. "This nutrition education and agriculture experience will help children value the efforts that go into producing the milk they select in the school cafeteria and at home, while understanding its contribution to a healthy, balanced diet."

The dairy station will also be set up in the Baby Barn at the upcoming 2018 California State Fair, July 13–29.