by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
American Dairy Association North East (ADANE), District 9, held their 2018 annual meeting at the Tally-Ho Restaurant in Richfield Springs, with a large representation of Dairy Princesses and their Courts in attendance.
Keynote speaker Emma Andrews, Industry Relations Specialist, and National Dairy Council Chair, Audrey Donahoe, presented a program informing attendees of how Dairy Checkoff dollars have recently, positively impacted the dairy relationship with consumers through on-going dairy promotions in grocery stores and schools, as well as through media and on-the-street activities.
Andrews, a former dairy princess herself, has a lifetime of dairy experience through working on her family’s farm. She reported that she has taken on the role of promoting dairy through developing “Virtual Farm Tour” videos she is using to tell the story of their farm.
Andrews says she takes live videos with her phone and then posts those videos to social media sources where the public can view them and see what really happens on the farm — and how well the cows are taken care of. Many city schools — and even some rural schools — have signed up to take these “virtual farm tours.”
“We’ve brought the consumer to us,” said Donahoe. “They’ve got a lot of questions.”
Donahoe said the Dairy Checkoff program allows funding for research and provides the ability to reach out to consumers. “It enables us to make that connection with them. We were getting a pretty bad rap from outside organizations that were telling our story, and it wasn’t a good story. We’re making great strides. They’re getting the right information now.”
“The dairy case management program is actually a very successful program, and we’re looking at it at a national level at this time.”
Andrews reported that whole milk sales were up 6 percent this past year.
“It’s not that we’re gaining new consumers,” Donahoe explained. “It’s because they are switching from 1 percent and 2 percent to whole milk. So, we’ve seen our 1 percent category drop, but we’ve seen our whole milk category increase. Consumers are shifting to whole milk.”
The school program continues to be a hit. However, Donahoe said she is one of many who would like to see more flavored milk in schools, with a higher fat content in the milk provided.
Farmers can lobby to make this happen.
“We can’t lobby,” Donahoe explained. “We, as a promotional organization, cannot lobby. You as a farmer can lobby.”
Farmers can lobby through their county Farm Bureau, co-ops and other organizations.
“We need to have some lobbying done for us to get a higher fat milk within the dietary guidelines, which will be coming out in 2020. It would allow us to have higher fat, better tasting milk in schools.”
This would move a little bit more of milk through the schools and give students a better experience of drinking milk, building future dairy consumers, while providing those students with the extra nutrition that milk provides.
Andrews reported that research supports the positive impact of whole fat milk for youngsters.
“National Dairy Council is a national organization under DMI (Dairy Management Inc.™), and they do find that saturated fat in developing youth impacts brain development.”
Andrews cautioned that there are groups on Facebook and other social media sites that use the word “pediatrics” for their own advantage. “Do your research on those groups!”
“We have a really good partnership with the American Association for Pediatrics,” Andrews commented. “They have a really good commercial out right now, encouraging you to serve your adolescent children 3 servings of dairy every day. They are a reputable group.”
Donahoe emphasized that once updated 2020 dietary guidelines are in place, it will be too late to make a change to add in higher-fat milk.
“Encourage Farm Bureau to do some lobbying for us. You should reach out to anybody that can do lobbying for us.”
Contacting your political representatives is one way to voice your opinion in this matter. Tell them that when they are implementing the new dietary guidelines you would like to see a higher content of milk fat or better yet, whole milk. Share you opinion with those who have the ability to make a difference.
Andrews said whether or not farms are shipping milk, they can contact National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) to advocate for higher fat milk in schools.
“They do lobby. Their main office is in Washington, D.C., and their website tends to be very up-to-date with the most recent legislation issues and what you can do as a dairy farmer,” Andrews reported.
“Peel Back the Label” is a recent campaign of NMPF, advocating for truth and transparency in food labeling.
“They are trying to work on the fact that these other alternative beverages should not be able to label themselves as ‘milk’, because they’re not!” Donahoe remarked.
Go to www.americandairy.com/ for more information on your Dairy Checkoff dollars at work.