July 26 2017 08:00 AM

Be sure to put your best foot forward when representing the dairy industry to the public.

As the dairy industry progresses so does the distance between the cow and the consumer. Fewer and fewer people have any idea what occurs on a dairy, yet more have an opinion on it anyway.

There are still others who wish to learn about where their food comes from. Remember, any question is a good question. However, how you go about answering it could benefit the dairy industry or dramatically hurt it.

First, remember to be patient. It is easy to become short-tempered when people ask seemingly stupid questions; but remember, those who ask questions are willing to learn and you can’t buy that. The consumer wants to see a patient, kindhearted dairyman with endless patience. They do not know that you are only getting 4 hours of sleep at night and that the only reason you’re standing is by the grace of God, black coffee, and Skittles.

Second, do not guess at a question. If you start the chain of misinformation because you were wrong, it will take a long time to correct your mistake. Simply ask for their contact information so that you can get back to them with the correct answer or defer the question to someone who is more knowledgeable about the topic than you.

Third, do not, under any circumstances, re-share any anti-dairy activists’ posts! It is never beneficial! I realize people re-share them with the heading “This is not true” or “Can you believe they posted this?” All you are doing is giving their post more views and a greater reach than if you had just left it alone.

People stop scrolling when they see a picture or a video so inherently they will see the video or picture, but that does not mean that they are going to read your comments or even remember what you said. What a consumer will remember is the horrible image that is now forever seared in their memory because you shared something that should have been left alone.

It is important to remember that when the consumer buys your product they are looking for a feeling and or a cause. Some consumers have very strong opinions about how you run your business and demand a change in procedures, even though they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about! This is why it is more important than ever to get out in front of the misinformation and fill the space with genuine, wholesome truth.

Tyler Ribeiro

Tyler Ribeiro is a fourth-generation dairy farmer born and raised in California. He is currently a partner with his father at Rib-Arrow Dairy in Tulare where they proudly ship their milk to Land O’Lakes. Tyler is actively involved in the dairy industry, holding leadership roles in various organizations locally and across the United States.