OMAHA – On Saturday, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed June as Dairy Month in Nebraska during a ceremony at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.  Dairy Month is celebrated in Nebraska each June to highlight the importance of Nebraska’s dairy farmers to agriculture and our state’s economy.

“Economic development and creating job opportunities is all about capitalizing on what you do best, and nobody is better at agriculture and livestock production than Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts.  “We are always looking to grow Nebraska by encouraging expansion in our agriculture industry.  Attracting additional dairy processers and producers is an important part of growing Nebraska agriculture.  Nebraska has a compelling story to tell prospective dairy processors and producers, and we are working together to attract more of them to our state.”

Overall cow numbers in Nebraska are up 15 percent from 2014 and farmers statewide have plans to add more than 10,000 cows in the near future.  Nebraska’s dairy herd produces over 24,000 pounds of milk per cow per year, ranking it sixth in the nation in terms of productivity.  Currently, Nebraska is a net exporter of milk, sending two million pounds out of the state every day.

“A processor who comes to Nebraska will have immediate access to milk produced right here, and dairy farmers will be thrilled to reduce their transportation costs in the process,” said Rod Johnson, executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association.  “The next dairy processor to stake a claim in Nebraska is going to have the pick of the litter in terms of location and the opportunity to connect with dairy farmers.  We call it the ‘First Mover’s Advantage.’”

The Grow Nebraska Dairy initiative includes representatives of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Public Power District, the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska State Dairy Association, and the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska.

“We have the cows.  We have dairy farmers ready to grow,” said Mat Habrock, NDA assistant director.  “We have the water and the feed.  We have affordable, reliable power.  We have shovel-ready sites and welcoming communities.  And we have a statewide commitment to growing dairy processing in Nebraska.”