The real deal with dairy

Wisconsin State Farmer

A commentary by Vivian A. Thompson, WMMB Board Member representing District 6.

Today’s consumers are more than three generations removed from the farm and as farmers we must share our information and personal stories to build greater trust in production agriculture.

Consumer perceptions of dairy farming are influenced by a variety of factors including what they see as they drive by farms that dot America’s Dairyland, certainly social media, the internet and their experiences at local farmers markets.

The reality today is that few people have an accurate knowledge of food production. When consumers are bombarded with information on every front – social media, television, friends and family – there is constant confusion and trust issues about the food we eat.

Consumers may be confused when shopping the dairy aisle.

Vivian Thompson

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's The Real Deal with Dairy initiative is focused on cutting through the clutter and is committed to share the real facts about one of the most important parts of our diet: dairy. This initiative tackles some of the hardest topics we face in dairy production ranging from antibiotics, plant-based alternatives to nutritional myth busting.

I encourage you to visit the website at: http://www.americasdairyland.com/dairy/health-nutrition/real-deal-with-dairy

While navigating the dairy aisles and interpreting labels is a challenge for consumers, many have not even seen a dairy farm up close or met the people that make our dairy farms one of the biggest assets - generating $43.4 billion annually – for Wisconsin's economy.

While social media is not for everyone, there are numerous ways to get involved, such as farm tours or other grassroots programs, which gives us the chance to make an impact, one person at a time on a local level.

In my District the Farm-City Day is a great opportunity to promote conservation education and the difference sustainable agriculture practices make to conserve our natural resources. Over 350 third and fourth graders from area schools, and close to three thousand general public and partners attended the two day Farm-City Days in Menomonie this year.

Farm-City Day is aimed to educate the community on where and how our food is produced and show how agriculture has evolved over the last 50 years. The success over the nine years of the event can be attributed to the countless volunteers, community members and industry partners who all believe in agriculture advocacy.

As part of The Real Deal with Dairy initiative, a two minute video was launched on America's Dairyland YouTube channel. This video pays tribute to the many Wisconsin dairy farmers who have the privilege of calling America's Dairyland, home. The film has captured a day in the life, and all of the things we as farmers do 365 days a year.

We as dairy farmers have been tasked to tell our story, but farmers are busy farming – milking, feeding their cows, and providing food to feed the world. We don’t have time to create a website or blog, tweet or even post on Facebook every day. The harsh reality is however, if we don’t tell our own stories, others tell them for us.

I hope you take some time and watch this video, be inspired and reenergized about why we are so passionate about farming, or even use this as motivation for telling your story and being a dairy advocate. https://www.youtube.com/user/DairyImpactWisconsin