“This is the first year in 40 years that there has not been a decline in fluid milk sales,” reported District 5 State Director Terri Phillips at the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council (ADADC) annual banquet and meeting.
Phillips, who has held the position of State Director for three years, commented that all of the State directors on the board of the ADADC are farmers and understand the “trials and tribulations” that farmers face daily.
“It’s no secret that more and more people are generations away from farming,” said Phillips. “I think we’re up to five generations away from farming now.”
She said because people don’t understand what happens on farms and they go to the internet for information. “We need to get information out there ahead of PETA.”
Phillips said today’s consumers are interested in convenience, fair pricing, food choices and buying local, resulting in a positive effect on farming. “Responsible farming has increased ten-fold,” she attested.
Major grocery stores are more interested in promoting local farms, thanks to ADADC’s intervention through check-off dollars.
Shop Rite sent photographers out to take photos of some of the dairy farms they do business with and are posting those photos in poster size in the dairy isles above the dairy cases.
“Dairy reinvention in the grocery stores is huge,” remarked Phillips, stating that yogurt sales have tripled, partially due to this reinvention process. She noted that milk competes with 60,000 other drinks, including “nut juices”.
Beth Meyer, Vice President of ADADC Industry Communications, also spoke to attendees about how dairy check-off dollars are working to promote dairy in schools, grocery stores, and to the general public.
“People want to know more about what you do and how you do it — from what cows eat and where they sleep, to how you care for the land and the water,” explained Meyer. “That’s why ADADC staff incorporates farmer image messaging into nearly every aspect of their programming.”
Meyer said dairy farmers are featured in everything from ‘Fuel Up to Play 60’ forums to ‘School Nutrition Association’ meetings. This explains to the audience the journey that milk takes from the farm to the table. “Social media has made this a world where anyone with a cell phone can be a reporter and whether we agree with those changes or not, it’s important for all of us to be willing and able to tell our stories — or else someone else will tell them for us!”
Meyer said some of the work that the ADADC does is “work that we frankly hope you’ll never see.” That involves “work done behind the scenes to plan and prepare for potential issues that might threaten the dairy industry. ADADC leads a coalition of local industry experts to manage issues from animal welfare to environmental sustainability to respond to questions or concerns with one unifying voice, on behalf of all dairy farmers.”
Montgomery County Dairy Princess Ashley Oeser and members of her Dairy Court were on hand at the meeting to greet attendees and hand out door prizes.
Oeser reported on events she had attended on behalf of the dairy industry over the past several months.
“We started out the year at the Fonda Speedway, where we had a table set up, handing out cheese and telling about the importance of dairy in our everyday diet.” Oeser said she and members of her court also visited daycare facilities, attended many community events, including Montgomery County’s Sundae on the Farm, where she participated in the milking contest. They also attended a Great American Milk Drive where they collected milk for the local food bank.
Meyer commented there is a great shortage of milk in the food banks state-wide and nation-wide, and asked that folks consider contributing milk when they donate food to their local food banks.
“In the future my court and I plan on working with local schools to start up the Fuel Up to Play 60 teams.”
Meyer said there is a greater consumption of milk in schools now that the milk is being served at a colder temperature.
“Colder milk tastes better!” said Phillips.
“More fat also makes it taste better,” commented District 5 Secretary Kevin Putman.
A discussion ensued about how to get whole milk back into the schools, where 2 percent milk and skim milk are currently served.
“It’s a battle,” stated Phillips.
Meyer noted that McDonalds are now serving milk as a main drink with their ‘Happy Meals’ and they are also switching from margarine to butter.
Meyer said all dairy farmers should attend the ADADC annual meetings in their district.
“We encourage all farmers to attend their local district meeting to learn more about ADADC’s programming. A complete schedule of meetings may be found on our website, www.adadc.com/Documents/2015-adadc-district-meetings.pdf .”
For more information contact Meyer at 315-472-9143.