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Local & Regional News

Governor declares Arkansas Dairy Month

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Daniel Breen
/
KUAR News
Gov. Asa Hutchinson joins state agriculture officials and dairy farmers in a meeting at the Arkansas State Capitol on Wednesday.

Arkansas’ dairy industry is being celebrated with June being declared Arkansas Dairy Month. Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued the proclamation in a meeting with dairy farmers at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

“I drink my milk every day,” the governor said, “I love my milk. I take my blackberries, put my milk on there. Isn’t that good?”

Hutchinson said his family dabbled in dairy farming while he was growing up on a farm in northwest Arkansas. Most of the state’s 40 dairy farms are located in that region, with about 5,000 cows in total.

One such farm is Dogwood Hills Guest Farm, which sits near the banks of the lower Buffalo River. Grace Pepler and her mother Ruth run the farm, which also offers guests a hands-on experience in milking and caring for cows. She says visitors from across the country flock to their farm to experience the dairy industry up close.

“People are becoming more and more curious about where their food is coming from. A lot of people got detached from this down-to-your-roots aspect of life. So now more people are wanting to experience again, and educate their children,” Pepler said. “I think that’s what’s really drawing people in.”

Her mother Ruth says they’ve had to use some creative measures to help offset rising feed prices brought on by inflation.

“I think it’s different [for] us because we are a micro-dairy. Really the big thing is we grow hydroponic barley fodder… we realized as all the other prices fluctuated, that one stayed fairly the same. And while it was more of a nutrient-dense product to feed our cows and it was a hands-on thing for the guests to do, all of a sudden in the last few months it has become actually more cost-effective,” Pepler said.

According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas is the 46th largest dairy producing state with milk sales contributing about $18 million to the state’s economy each year.