Dairy Cows in Arizona?

July 19th, 2014 (franklin)

By Rocco Cardinale

The number one question I’ve had over the last two years has been, “There are dairy cows in Arizona?” This is a seemingly logical question when the sweltering heat and desert landscape are the typical images that come to mind when most of us picture Arizona. Those were my images as well, primarily because they are true.

Yes, it’s hot and dry for a good part of the year in the southwest Arizona county of Pinal, and it’s also the heart of a robust dairy milkshed. Yes, it feels as if you’re going to accidentally “mosey” (that will be my only Western movie reference, promise) right onto the movie set of an old cowboy picture with cacti in the background and the perfect tumbleweed rolling on by. The John Wayne vibe is still alive and well, especially in Casa Grande, where the “Duke” spent a great deal of time. Coincidentally, a portion of his Red River Ranch is now part of a dairy operation owned by Tom and Kathy Dugan. More about the Dugan’s later.

Just how much milk is produced in Arizona? Oh, about 4.4 billion pounds a year, ranking Arizona 15th in the U.S.  A majority of this milk is produced by the 86 member farmers of the United Dairyman of Arizona Cooperative (UDA). UDA collects the milk from each farm, and at their state-of-the-art processing facility in Tempe, pasteurizes the fluid milk for local bottlers and manufacturers. Cream and butter are also produced, as well as powdered milk for domestic and global distribution.

One of the original Arizona dairy families is the Dugan’s. Dennis Dugan, of Triple D Dairies and his five brothers (Dan, Pat, Mike, Richard, and Tom) are all dairy farmers. Only Richard in no longer active.  The Dugan’s parents, Delores and Mike, moved from Wisconsin to Arizona in 1962 with their six boys.  Today the Dugan brothers milk about 30,000 cows. After spending time with Dennis and touring the dairy farm, one thing is very clear, he still enjoys the dairy business. He effortlessly moves from topics on the latest herd cooling technology, global dairy issues and practices, to his new family foundation that will benefit underprivileged children. This family owned business represents the history and future of Arizona dairy, and Franklin Foods West is proud to have the Dugan’s, and all of the family farmers of UDA as suppliers.

So, to answer the question, “Yes, there are dairy cows in Arizona…about 175,000 of them.” Visit the Dairy Council of Arizona website and learn more about Arizona family farmers.

Rocco Cardinale

Rocco has over 15 years of marketing and branding experience in the food and beverage, and consumer packaged goods industry. His background stretches from founding a specialty coffee company in California to his current role as vice president of marketing for Franklin Foods, an innovative dairy products manufacturer.

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