There were 110 people in attendance at the Peninsula Pride Farms annual meeting last month in Luxemburg, Wis. Many of the individuals present were members of the farmer-led conservation group based in northeast Wisconsin, but there were numerous nonfarming attendees in the audience as well.
The organization’s president, dairy owner Don Niles, D.V.M., warmly welcomed both members and guests to the meeting. He encouraged the nonagricultural attendees to stay interested in their group and ask questions.
“As dairy producers, we don’t have all the answers, but we have nothing to hide,” said Niles.
Hoard’s Dairyman asked Peninsula Pride Farms and three other producer-led groups (California’s Dairy Cares, the Dairy Farmers of Washington, and the New York Animal Agriculture Coalition) how they communicate with consumers on a regular basis. Their answers are below.
In addition, more background about these organizations that strive to educate the public and protect the environment can be found in the Round Table article, “These groups represent farmers and the environment.” It appeared in the February 25, 2018, issue, beginning on page 114.
How do you reach out to the public?
Peninsula Pride Farms (Wisconsin): We share information about our group, events, member activity, news, and stories on our website (PeninsulaPrideFarms.org) and Facebook page. Also, we accept interview requests from local, state, and national news media and suggest stories. We take opportunities to participate in presentations and panel discussions at various industry and environmental conferences and community events.
Dairy Cares (California): Dairy Cares communicates with opinion leaders both online and in person. Staff members make presentations throughout the state to communicate key messages to opinion leaders. The organization also creates video content, shared through DairyCares.com and on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Dairy Cares recently updated its website and joined Instagram. Additionally, Dairy Cares sends out a monthly e-newsletter to local and state-elected officials, regulatory officials, members, and anyone interesting in receiving it.
N.Y. Animal Agriculture Coalition (New York): NYAAC has a fairly active Facebook page that reached over 2 million people last year. This page posts something new daily to educate and engage with the public. We also have Twitter and Instagram accounts that allow for two-way dialogues. Lastly, we maintain and contribute regularly to a blogsite that is promoted through our social media channels.
Dairy Farmers of Washington (Washington): Washington has one of the most diverse populations in the U.S. While this urban-rural divide can be viewed as a challenge, DFW sees this as an opportunity to be the storyteller for these farmers. Our best channel to reach consumers is through social media. DFW regularly shares blogs and videos to give consumers a glimpse into farming, as well as the nutritional benefits of dairy.
We do advertising campaigns, targeting the liberal Seattle audience. This year our campaign is “Keep it Real, Keep it Washington.” This effort is to show the real benefits of real dairy while highlighting why Washington has the best dairy. This includes unique digital advertising and billboards to bus wraps and events.
For school outreach, we do FUTP60 (Fuel Up to Play 60), local implementation of the National DC FUTP60 program, and improve dairy access in schools through dairy optimization programs.
Community events include exhibiting at an artisan cheese festival, working with our processors to showcase their products at food shows, sponsoring marathons/runs, and providing materials and expertise at health professional conferences. We sponsor grocery store events with partners to leverage return on investment and drive sales and host mobile food bank events. We also sponsor the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), Spokane Chiefs Hockey, Yakima Pippins, and the Seattle Mariners.
For foodservice and restaurant promotions, we sponsor Inlander Restaurant Week in the greater Spokane area each February. We work with the Inlander to have as many restaurants as possible to have one of their highlighted menu items be dairy focused, helping push the consumption of dairy. In conjunction, we host a kickoff benefit to the promotion where all of the proceeds go to the eastside food agency to purchase milk for food banks east of the mountain.