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CALDWELL -- June is national dairy month and milk means a lot to the Gem State and its economy. Last year, Idaho cows produced more than 13 billion pounds of milk and that number continues to grow.

Idaho boasts more than 500 dairies, all of which are family-owned.

At Beranna Dairy in Caldwell, raising cows runs in the family. Bernie Teunissen, along with his wife and children, manage the Dairygold farm. It's been in the family for decades, but has only been located in southwest Idaho since 2000.

It's a fabulous place to operate a dairy, said Teunissen of his land in Caldwell.

The climate is one of the factors that makes southwest Idaho a good place to do business.

[The cows] like it cool and dry, and then secondly, it's a fabulous place to grow alfalfa hay, Teunissen said.

That hay helps feed Beranna Dairy's 3,000 milking cows. Teunissen said he uses a special carousel milking parlor to keep the cows comfortable during the milking process.

They seem to like the ride around. They enjoy it, they chew their cud, he said. Each cow gives about 9 gallons of milk a day.

It's a product that the United Dairymen of Idaho are proud to promote. During the month of June, they hosted a dairy tour to introduce others to the inner-workings of the dairy industry.

We're excited to really showcase one of our family-owned dairies in Idaho to our partners and stakeholders, said Karianne Fallow, CEO of the United Dairymen of Idaho.

Our dairy farmers are feeding the world every day, she said.

Teunissen agrees. He says he's seen tremendous export growth for his milk products over the last 14 years.

In the year 2000, one percent of our dairy products were exported, he said. Today, it's 17 percent.

Even though most dairy farms in Idaho are already established, new technology is helping increase milk production.

We hope to see more milk produced in Idaho, Fallow said.

Farmers say that's definitely a possibility as they learn to be more innovative, all while taking good care of their livelihood.

A cow that is not comfortable is not a productive cow, and will not be a financial success, Teunissen said.

Idaho is ranked number one per capita in milk production in the country. Farmers like Teunissen hope to keep it that way.

The United Dairymen of Idaho says there are more than 540,000 milk cows in the state of Idaho. The dairy industry also supports more than 33,000 jobs.

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