The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has added a new twist to that national “Got Milk?” branding campaign.
It’s “Got Tennessee Milk?”
State Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton announced Wednesday, Sept. 5, that the MTSU Creamery and the Crossville, Tennessee-based Sunrise Dairy are the first to carry the Tennessee Milk logo on their dairy products sold to the public.
Templeton made the announcement in Middle Tennessee State University’s School of Agriculture Stark Ag Building with a crowd of more than 30, including state and dairy industry personnel and MTSU students, staff and administrators, on hand.
Milk receiving the state’s Tennessee Milk designation must be entirely sourced, processed and bottled in Tennessee. The state Department of Agriculture administers the program.
Milk was named Tennessee’s official beverage in 2009.
“This logo allows consumers the opportunity to support Tennessee dairy farmers, who are facing challenging times right now,” Templeton said. “We appreciate the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association for supporting the enabling legislation, assisting TDA on the development of the logo and promoting the program to producers and processors.”
Jessica Carter, director of the MTSU School of Agriculture, said the university is “proud to be one of the first producer/processors to participate in the new Tennessee Milk program.”
The MTSU Creamery opened in June 2017.
“Being part of this program will allow us to brand our milk as a locally produced product and enable consumers to confidently purchase dairy products from Tennessee farmers,” Carter added. “Our freshly bottled MTSU milk will proudly display the new logo to help promote Tennessee’s dairy industry.”
The logo includes a small blue circle outline, larger red inner circle with the words “TENNESSEE MILK” and an old-style bottle with the recognizable three-star graphic from the state flag.
Carter and Templeton led a “milk toast” as the group enjoyed MTSU chocolate milk.
East Tennessee-based Weigel’s, Williamson County’s Hatcher Family Dairy, and the Orlinda-based G & G Family Dairy soon will carry the same logo designation, Templeton said.
Templeton said there are now 224 dairy farms in Tennessee with about 33,500 dairy cows, goats and sheep — an average of 145 per farm — and 36 processing plants, creating an annual economic impact of $130 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The commissioner told the audience the state has lost an average of 32 dairies per year since 2008 and lost 67 in the past 16 months. He cited global competition and retiring farmers among a variety of reasons for the dwindling numbers.
He praised lawmakers with Tennessee’s 110th General Assembly for passing legislation creating the labeling process and logo. He recognized state Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains and state Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville for sponsoring the measure. Danny Sutton, the state’s dairy administrator, helped engineer the logo.
Stan Butt represented the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association, joined by his wife, state Rep. Sheila Butt of Columbia, at the announcement.
Many in the group joined a tour of the MTSU milk processing plant led by MTSU student Christina Davis. About eight students attended the event, many of them part of the early-morning milking process at the MTSU Farm and Dairy, also known as the Experiential Learning and Research Center, in Lascassas.
MTSU’s School of Agriculture is one of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)