Thursday, June 9, 2016

Israel's Dairy Festival

With the approaching festival of Shavuot (Pentecost) this weekend and the tradition of eating diary foods, the festive atmosphere at the President’s residence this week belied the concerns of farmers living and working near the Gaza Strip.

A group of farmers and their children accompanied the executive director of the Israel Dairy Board, to a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, to present them with baskets of some of the numerous dairy products that are made from the milk and cream of Israel’s cows, goats and sheep.

The children all wore garlands of flowers in their hair. The men were in white shirts, the women in white blouses and the little girls in modest white dresses.

The executive director proudly presented eve of Shavuot statistics to the president and his wife saying that Israel’s annual milk yield is 1,450 billion liters coming from 810 dairy farms in moshavim and kibbutzim, primarily in the Negev and the Galilee. Some 30,000 people work as farmers, drivers, processors in dairy food production plants and in veterinary capacities. Some 1,500 dairy products are produced in Israel.

Dairy farming represents 20 percent of overall farming in Israel, and Israeli cows give the highest milk yields in the world, but she warned that despite all of Israel’s technological advances in agriculture, there was a danger of Israel losing its dairy prestige, because land originally designated for agriculture is being rezoned for residential and commercial purposes.

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