Farm Practices

Dairy Quality

Farmer

Milk is among the most highly regulated foods in the country. Maintaining milk’s freshness and quality is a job that starts at the farm and continues through processing. From the time the milk leaves the cow’s udder, it is chilled to about 38 degrees and remains cold in a stainless steel tank. Milk is picked up at dairy farms every day of the year and is shipped immediately to a processing plant where it is tested, pasteurized and bottled.

Quality Starts on the Farm

Farmers pay special attention to the diets and living conditions of their animals. Just as some people consult dietitians to help them eat right, many dairy farmers consult with feed nutritionists to design a well-balanced diet for their cows. Nutritious feed is the first step toward good milk. Properly sanitized equipment and thorough cleaning of the cow’s udder before milking is equally important. As the cow is being milked, her milk flows through refrigerated pipes to a sanitized bulk tank where it is immediately cooled down from her body temperature — about 100 degrees F — to 38-45 degrees F. This preserves freshness and guarantees safety. The milk is then picked up by a milk truck, which serves as a giant refrigerator on wheels.

On-farm Testing Happens Daily

Before the milk is delivered to the plant, the truck driver takes a sample of the milk to test for impurities, such as antibiotic residues, that would compromise quality. If antibiotic residue is detected, the entire tank of milk is immediately discarded, never to reach America’s families. The farmer responsible for the impure milk may have to pay the cost of the entire truckload of milk, so each farmer’s incentive to maintain milk quality is high. Government data indicates that less than one tanker in 1,000 tests positive for drug residues, a sign that the system is working.

Farm Inspections are Routine

Inspectors from state regulatory agencies and milk processing plants make surprise visits to farms on a regular basis. These unannounced visits are just one more set of checks and balances to make sure animal living conditions are clean, milking equipment is being properly sanitized and the facilities in general provide a safe working environment for all.

FL Milk Bottle and Seal

FeaturedRecipe

Ricotta Avocado Toast with Roasted Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Farm Egg

June Dairy Month is the perfect time to go dairy forward at a Father’s Day brunch.

Toast toppings with dairy are quick, easy ways to embellish a morning staple. Avocado toast is one of the decade's most popular food trends. Combine the smashed buttery avocado with ricotta, whole milk, fresh herbs, chopped vegetables, and a poached or over-easy farm egg and you have a great breakfast for Father’s Day or any day. 

The cooking time is a little long for this recipe, but this is geared for a special occasion – not a quick bite and dash out the door to work. Good news for busy home cooks: The recipe has many make-ahead elements so that assembly can go very fast.

I added roasted tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms on the side to make it a true Fresh From Florida meal.  Serve with prosciutto, thick-cut bacon, and a bloody Mary or mimosa.

Recipe provided by Heather McPherson from Heather's Florida Kitchen.

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FL Milk Bottle and Seal

FeaturedRecipe

Florida Guava and Banana Smoothie with Greek Yogurt and Milk

Whether it’s in smoothies or coffee, adding one more serving of milk to your family’s day can help ensure they get the nutrients they need to build strong bones and teeth, according to Florida Dairy Farmers.

Did you know that June Dairy Month started out as a way to distribute extra ice-cold milk during the warm summer months? The commemoration was established in 1937 by grocer organizations sponsoring “National Milk Month.” By 1939, June became the official “dairy month.”

Florida Dairy Farmers want to remind consumers from whole to lactose-free, there are many fluid dairy choices for menu planners and home cooks.

Recipe provided by Heather McPherson from Heather's Florida Kitchen. 

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FL Milk Bottle and Seal

FeaturedRecipe

Garden Gazpacho with Fried Sweet Corn and Bacon Topping

The nutrients in dairy products play key roles in preventing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis, and dairy is important for building strong bones and teeth. For June Dairy Month, Florida Dairy Farmers are reminding consumers to choose milk, cheese, and yogurt, all of which are excellent sources of calcium, vitamin D and potassium.

This cold soup is a refreshing summer menu choice for brunch, lunch, dinner. Thick Greek yogurt and whole milk provide a silky texture and extra protein. You can substitute one small cucumber for the celery, but each ingredient imparts distinct taste nuances. I prefer celery because of its pleasantly bitter quality that works well with acidic tomatoes.

Traditionally leftover crusty white bread is an ingredient in gazpacho. This variation on the recipe eliminates the bread making the gazpacho gluten-free.

Recipe provided by Heather McPherson from Heather's Florida Kitchen.

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FL Milk Bottle and Seal

FeaturedRecipe

Pepper Drop Biscuits with Fresh Mango and Mint Whipped Cream

June Dairy Month reminds us that dairy farming is a family tradition in the Southeast. In Florida, dairy farms are primarily owned and operated by second and third-generation farmers. These operations collectively produce about 300 million gallons of milk a year with Lafayette and Okeechobee recognized as Florida’s leading dairy counties.

Florida’s dairy farmers recycle about 170,000 tons of agricultural byproducts such as citrus pulp, brewers’ grain and whole cottonseed that are consumed by the cows instead of ending up in landfills. Being good stewards of the land is important to the entire industry.

In the kitchen, Florida farmers love to combine their dairy products with other Florida harvests to create sweet and savory dishes. Today’s recipe accomplishes both.

These savory drop biscuits filled with fresh mango make a nice side for brunch menus or summer picnics. No sugar is added to the rich whipped cream topping because the fruit has enough natural sweetness to carry this dish.

Recipe provided by Heather McPherson from Heather's Florida Kitchen.

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FL Milk Bottle and Seal

FeaturedRecipe

Mojito Cheesecake

Welcome to June Dairy Month, a time to celebrate to Florida dairy farmers and their agriculture colleagues across the Southeast. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans produced by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services supports the importance of consuming three daily servings of dairy foods such as milk and cheese. Dairy is also highlighted for providing three of the four nutrients that are typically lacking in American diets: calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Both organic and regular dairy foods contain the same essential nutrients key to a healthy and balanced diet.

Throughout June we will be sharing recipes that cover a range of flavors and healthful approaches to summertime menus. But we thought we would kick things off with a dessert splurge. After all, moderation is part of any good-for-you eating plan. Slim slices are super satisfying and sharing the cheesecake with the friends and family will make second-serving temptations disappear quickly.

Recipe provided by Heather McPherson from Heather's Florida Kitchen.

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Florida Dairy Farmers
1003 Orienta Avenue
Altamonte Springs, Florida, 32701
Phone: (407) 647-8899