Dairy dialogue engages the public about animal agricultureby Troy Bishopp

HAMILTON, NY — With the catchphrases: “Collars are like Fitbits for cows”, “technology is monitoring and management” and “more brain-power than back-power,” dairy farmers are trying to connect with a tech savvy audience as they tell their stories about modern dairy farming. That’s engagement in the year 2019 and beyond.

“We are here to answer questions and concerns in a comfortable atmosphere. Face to face, transparent conversations between farmers and consumers are far more beneficial than using Google,” said New York Animal Agriculture Coalition (NYAAC) Board Member, Julie Richardson.

“NYAAC is a farmer founded and funded organization that strives to build consumer trust and public support for modern agricultural practices through consumer education, media engagement and industry cooperation. Its board is made of up representatives from the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, Cayuga Marketing LLC, Farm Credit East, the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association, New York Farm Bureau and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association. Pro-Dairy serves as an advisor to the board.”

The statewide Dairy Dialogue series, brought to fruition by The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition and its sponsors, came to the Hamilton Theater in the footprint of Colgate University’s campus. The informal evening was setup to provide opportunities for dialogue to occur between local dairy farmers and consumers of dairy products. “Our goal is to help consumers connect with those producing their food and allow them to get questions answered and meet a farmer,” said Blue Hill Farm owner and NYAAC Board Member, Corinne Banker. Dairy farmers are passionate, hard-working people who dedicate their daily lives to caring for the cows on their farm, the land they live on and the communities they live in.”

The audience of 30 guests screened the 2018 NYAAC YouTube video, “Generations of Advancements in Dairy Farming” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw6uen1bO28) produced by Mike Femia. The video highlighted three generations of dairy farmers at various stages of their career. “You’ll witness their excitement and passion for the industry they live and love as they continue to prosper and grow every day. The days of dairy farming have evolved tremendously since hand milking and horse drawn plows. In fact, every advancement has been well thought out and executed allowing farmers to be better caretakers of their animals and their land while producing a healthy and safe product.”~ NYAAC.

After the video, Julie Richardson, at-large NYAAC board member, facilitated a panel discussion featuring local dairy farmers: Joel Riehlman, John Collins, Corinne Banker and Morrisville College student and prospective agriculture teacher, Karly Marshman. Questions from the public centered around where are the future farmers coming from. Are there governmental incentives to help farmers? Are there enough processing options/facilities in our area? In the age of modern farming, what are the plain community farmers doing to thrive?

Good discussions followed each question. “The bottom line is agriculture has vast and diverse opportunities to explore. We need all kinds of farmers to help nourish all kinds of consumers,” said Riehlman. To bring the conversations to the palate, Chenango County Dairy Princess, Paige Warren served milk, cheese and the message of dairy nutritional benefits to the guests, hungry for knowledge. To learn more visit; www.nyanimalag.org