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Local dairy farmers talk about importance of community support

W. VA. (WVVA) - June is National Dairy Month.

The goal of national dairy month is to highlight the dairy industry.

Brian Wickline, the owner of Belle Vue Organic Dairy Farm in Monroe County, said there's been a decline in milk consumption despite it's nutritious properties.

"In the last few years we've had a decrease in milk consumption, and so…. steadily decrease for actually thirty to forty years now, because we have so many soft drinks that are coming out there, that people will choose those but as far as milk, there's not a better product out there as far as providing protein, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, minerals and vitamins in actually milk itself," said Wickline.

Rem Perkins, is the owner and a third generation farmer at Perk Farms Organic Dairy. He said, dairy month is welcome as it encourages more people to use dairy products.

"They dedicated June as Dairy month, to get more people to help take up some of the, the milk supply, with promoting Ice cream and cheese products to get more people to help purchase more," said Perkins.

Kent Leonhadt, the Commissioner at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, said supporting local dairies is important to helping them stay afloat.

This is due to supply and demand, and larger dairies being able to produce more product and make more profit.

"This is kind of pushing the smaller dairy farmer out of business because he can't make enough money on the cows for the size of herd that he has, and he doesnt have the funds to expand," said Leonhardt.

This is prompting some small farmers like the Perkins family to pivot to organic farming.

""That made a huge difference on the farms because it stabilized our pay price. We know what we're getting from our milk as well as our quality and fat and protein are the things we get paid for," said Perkins. "Those prices are set at the beginning of the year and we know what we are going to get paid all year."

By farmers being able to make more money, they're able to give back to the local economy, as Wickline said dairies are good for local economies.

"Each cow has an economic multiplier effect of about twenty thousand dollars per cow in the community," said Wickline. "There's a lot of different businesses that we support as well, that our milk dollars go back into the community to help support the community itself."

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Maria Sellers

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