by Evelyn Leubner
June is Dairy Month. You may have heard of this campaign. Every summer when June rolls around, I get very excited. Not because school is out, or there is finally nice weather in central New York. Well, I do get excited about that, but not as excited as I do about June Dairy Month.
#JuneDairyMonth, similar to #FebruDairy, is an entire month dedicated to shining a light on the dairy industry. This campaign is mostly done through the use of social media as a way to further reach out to consumers and farmers. Social media has turned into an amazing way to teach the public about dairy farms and where their food comes from. It allows farmers to create transparency with consumers with the tap of a button.
As someone who talks about dairy and agriculture year round on my social media platform @nyfarmgirls, I try to come up with even more engaging dairy posts during June Dairy Month. It is really important to me to create a space where anyone can ask questions about modern day dairy farms, since not everyone has the ability to visit one. I tend to talk about the more “touchy” dairy industry topics as a way to debunk the many myths that have been created about dairy farming. I do not hesitate to dive into the topics of cow/calf separation, artificial insemination and antibiotics when it comes to posting on social media. I noticed many people steer away from these topics as a way to avoid conflict with those who do not agree with our industry’s practices. Being afraid to talk about these practices only allows room for others to spread false information about the dairy industry instead. I always say, “Tell your story before someone else does it for you!” Speaking up now, and being a strong, positive voice for all farmers, will ensure a successful future for the world of ag and consumer relations.
Currently, there is a challenge going on that was started for this June Dairy Month called the “Milk Flip Cup Challenge.” Some may remember the notorious drinking game “Flip Cup” from college. The Milk Flip Cup Challenge is very similar, but the cups are filled with nutritious milk. There is a pretty intense bracket that is filled with the names of ag social media influencers/farmers. Every Saturday, the competitions happen throughout the day on Instagram Live. Two players set up a time and go head-to-head in order to move forward in the bracket. I am part of this challenge (@nyfarmgirls), and surprisingly, I am still going strong! I recently competed against fellow New Yorker Nikki Boxler. I will admit I was pretty nervous. I heard from her past competitors that she was a force to be reckoned with. This may seem silly, but we are competing as a way to raise money for the foundation Feeding America. A Milk Flip Cup shirt was created, and part of the proceeds from the shirt go to Feeding America, along with the many gracious donations from viewers. With all of the craziness going on in the world, this challenge has been a nice break from it all – and a great way to help those in need. By the time you are reading this article, I will hopefully be in the final round, getting ready to take home the trophy.
Head over to Instagram and check out pages such as @farmingwiththehilbys, @seejessfarm, @dairygirlfitness, @newmexicomilkmaid and @cadairydad to see what they are doing to celebrate. If you are more of a Facebook person, check out TDF Honest Farming, where Derrick debunks dairy myths and shares his farm life on the daily. All of these pages help to break that barrier between consumers and producers as a way to gain consumer trust. They also share recent news in the dairy industry, recipes that include dairy and insightful posts that allow farmers to create relationships with one another.
While June Dairy Month is another reason to talk about cows, it is most importantly a great way to create better relationships with our consumers and other farmers. The future of agriculture depends on us, right now. Social media has turned into the perfect tool to reach out and educate about the reality of agriculture. It doesn’t have to be all serious business, either. Agricultural outreach can be so much fun and a great way to meet new people. There is a whole community of farmers on social media right now, and the community needs to continue growing. We all have the ability to be there for each other in these difficult times. June Dairy Month is the perfect place to start. Put yourself out there, become a voice for all farmers and help craft a successful future for agriculture. We need you!