CISA, local farmers benefit from state dairy promotion grants

  • Robert Williams of the Mount Toby Farm in Sunderland feeds his cows before milking them. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

For the Gazette
Published: 8/14/2016 3:03:37 PM

With more than $183,000 for milk promotion this year, the state hopes to get the message across that milk is not only good for you, but good for the local economy, too.

The $143,420 awarded in six grants last week by the state Department of Agricultural Resources and the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board will go to nonprofit groups working to advance the image, sales and demand for Bay State dairy products.

That includes $46,840 for the Massachusetts Association of Dairy Farmers, which applied for its first grant to promote a new slogan, “A splash of Mass. in every glass!” to convey to consumers that using milk from the state’s roughly 160 dairy farmers is important to the viability of the dairy industry.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Rena Sumner of Conway, the association’s executive secretary. “This is a tough time to be a dairy farmer. The farmers need it. Massachusetts needs it.”

The money — all of which, she emphasized, is actually paid into a Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board fund by dairy farmers themselves — will complement the state’s strong “buy local” message and “springboard off of that, to remind people of the value of dairy farmers in the Commonwealth.”

The association will also offer a scholarship to be offered for the first time to the child of a dairy farmer to further their education, “hopefully in agriculture.”

CISA involvement

Another $43,000 of the dairy promotion money was awarded to Deerfield’s Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture to work with other buy-local programs around the state to continue its push of Massachusetts farm products.

At on-farm press tours, wholesale buyer events and special programs like the screening of a new dairy-farm documentary, CISA plans to “tell the stories of dairy farmers around the state,” said Claire Morenon, CISA program coordinator.

“We want to help get dairy farmers’ voices out in front of people,” Morenon said, so that consumers know that there are real people — in some cases, their neighbors — producing the milk.

As part of the milk promotion, CISA is also working with the University of Massachusetts to update reseach on the costs of milk production in the state, she said.

The promotion grants, which also include $60,000 to the New England Dairy and Food Council, $23,000 to the Eastern States Exposition, $6,746 to the Massachusetts 4-H Foundation and $3,834 to Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom for projects that also include a school breakfast program and a promotional effort at the Eastern States Exposition.

The funding is intended to help “keep dairy products relevant in the marketplace while also educating consumers of the positive contributions dairy farming has on agriculture across the Commonwealth,” said state Food and Agriculture Commissioner John Lebeaux.


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