You have to be careful lighting this many candles! This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Dairy Council.
According to a description written in 1918 by Oregon Dairy Council secretary Edith Knight Hill, the Council was originally created to serve as an educational resource supporting the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products. She wrote, “The good seed sown will spring up and bear a big harvest of better health and prosperity.”
From the Council’s earliest days, dairy farm families made a commitment to support education, youth wellness and healthy communities. Back then, “The council and the teachers found that there were scores of little children drinking coffee exclusively and getting no milk,” writes Hill. “In Portland a milk survey was made and it was found that over 5,700 children, all practically under 14 years of age, were getting no milk.”
The Council supported child nutrition programs such as school meals to help students receive the nutrition they needed to perform at their best, both in and out of the classroom. The Council also served to help Oregonians better understand the important role of dairy in a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. These efforts continue today.
In 1943, the Oregon Dairy Products Commission was formed as Oregon’s first commodity commission. In 1985, the two organizations merged and later became known as the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council in 2016.
Many things about the dairy community are just as important today as they were a century ago: nutrition, food safety, cow care, labor availability and market conditions. But dairy farming has also become more sophisticated. Today’s dairy farmers use technology such as robotic milking machines, GPS for precision agriculture, RFID tags and even cow pedometers. Modern equipment and farmer expertise ensure that cows, employees, natural resources and communities can thrive together while boosting efficiency and production in a sustainable manner.
Besides providing nutritious foods, dairy farms are also improving the health of Oregon’s economy. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the economic impact of dairy products in Oregon totals $2.7 billion, supporting more than 12,000 jobs.
Indeed, it isn’t every day you turn 100, and we’re in good company for the celebration. Looking back, 1918 was a big year for dairy, as dairy processor Darigold, dairy supplier DeLaval, and two Tillamook dairies – Wilsonview Dairy and Tilla-Bay Farms – also turn 100 this year. Stay tuned for more stories throughout the month about Oregon’s rich dairy history, which runs several generations deep.