Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dairy FAQ: How do I know if my milk is local?

The local foods movement has gained momentum in recent years. One thing I love about agriculture is that there seems to be a niche market for everyone--farmers and consumers.




When you go to the grocery store, you likely won't see individual farm names on milk jugs. Instead of seeing labels such as Johnson Dairy (our retired dairy farm name), you'll see Dean's, Prairie Farms, various store brands. If you're in Washington, you'll see a lot of Darigold milk since that's the main milk marketing cooperative out there.

Since you can't find your neighbor's dairy name on the shelves, how can you know it's local? On each gallon of milk, there's a code. It may say 18-1019. 18 is the state code, which happens to be Indiana, and 1019 is the plant code where it was processed. By processed, I mean where it was pasteurized and homogenized.

Look below the "Sell by" line for the state and plant code

Below are all the state codes:

Alabama
01
Montana
30
Alaska
02
Nebraska
31
Arizona
04
Nevada
32
Arkansas
05
New Hampshire
33
California
06
New Jersey
34
Colorado
08
New Mexico
35
Connecticut
09
New York
36
Delaware
10
North Carolina
37
District of Columbia
11
North Dakota
38
Florida
12
Ohio
39
Georgia
13
Oklahoma
40
Hawaii
15
Oregon
41
Idaho
16
Pennsylvania
42
Illinois
17
Puerto Rico
43
Indiana
18
Rhode Island
44
Iowa
19
South Carolina
45
Kansas
20
South Dakota
46
Kentucky
21
Tennessee
47
Louisiana
22
Texas
48
Maine
23
Utah
49
Maryland
24
Vermont
50
Massachusetts
25
Virginia
51
Michigan
26
Washington
53
Minnesota
27
West Virginia
54
Mississippi
28
Wisconsin
55
Missouri
29
Wyoming
56


Most milk doesn't travel very far. Everyone has their own definition of local, but for milk, being processed in the same state is pretty local. Some milk will travel outside of state lines for processing. For example, I know of some farms in west central Indiana that ship milk to the Dannon plant in Ohio to be made into yogurt. Some Indiana milk will travel into the Southeast to help fill their deficit during various times of the year. The Southeast does not produce enough milk to satisfy the demand, so they usually bring it in from New Mexico, Texas, the Mideast region (Indiana, Ohio, etc.) and Pennsylvania. When I was a field rep in North Carolina and Virginia, many of the milk plants I worked with (it was mostly a fluid market, meaning most plants processed fluid milk instead of cheese or other dairy products) brought in milk from those other regions during the late summer months.




Cows tend to produce more milk in the spring (March/April) during what we call the "spring flush" and less during the hot part of the summer (August/September). August and September is also when schools start back up, so there's added demand. If none of that makes sense and you want to learn more about that, let me know.

By purchasing milk with your state's code on it, you're supporting your home-state dairy farmers. Keep in mind that some milk crosses state lines for processing, so buying milk from other states is good too.

4 comments:

  1. Hi, excellent information..!!!! This is really very great information, I liked it. You shared great points, thanks for share with us nice information.

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  2. I had no idea about the codes!! Great information!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Yes, it's really neat how we can track these things!

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