As we take to the fields, we have an incredible opportunity to share our sustainability story through social media, such as Facebook, since sustainability plays a significant role in how consumers shop for food. Consumers are increasingly aware that food grown closer to home is fresher, creates fewer carbon emissions, and supports the local economy.

Research gives us a sense of consumers’ values:

• Almost half of American consumers say that environmentally friendly products are important when they shop, and one-in-three say they will pay more for products that promote conservation. (Source: Nielsen)

• Nearly nine-in-10 consumers expect businesses to invest in sustainability. (Source: Innova)

• Products marketed as sustainable have 17% share of the market, 50% share of the market growth, and delivered $113.9 billion in sales in 2018 across 36 product categories. (Source: IRI)

Yet, in a recent study by the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, only 59% of respondents said that dairy farmers practice sustainable farming.

How can this be?

At many family dairy farms such as ours, farmers practice conservation and recycling while considering what is best for the planet, the cows and the consumer. Farmers work with teams of local and national experts to continually improve sustainability efforts and ensure the land stays healthy for future generations.

Our cows eat a balanced diet and produce manure. We precisely apply some of that manure to the soil using satellite technology. The roots of our crops absorb the nutrients, removing the manure from the soil. The crops feed our cows that produce high-quality milk. This cycle happens on dairy farms of all sizes.

We recycle 100% of our water and return it to our streams, lakes, and ponds with a bark filtration system that makes it as clean as it was when we first used it.

Our farm will soon use our digesters to provide methane to a local power company that can deliver renewable gas to more than one-third of Kewaunee County residents or about 2,500 people.

Together we need to tout farmer-led groups, such as Peninsula Pride Farms, and strengthen our demonstration projects with the state and federal departments of agriculture.

It’s unrealistic to think that busy farmers facing financial challenges can go out on the stump to convince almost half of Americans about the awesome sustainable practices on our nation’s farms. We need to leverage organizations that are helping to advance our efforts and ensure dairy’s relevance and market competitiveness.

A collective effort by your dairy checkoff and other consumer organizations, The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is one of these organizations that turns up the volume for healthy products that support healthy people and a healthy planet. Learn more about how the Innovation Center reinforces dairy farmers’ environmental leadership and get involved, helping your livelihood remain stable for future generations.

To comment, email your remarks to intel@hoards.com.
(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2020
April 23, 2020
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