Oct. 11 2023 08:30 AM

We must bridge the gap between dairy and the next generation of consumers who are disconnected from production agriculture.

Responsible production has been a generations-long commitment made by our nation’s dairy farm families. Yet, the story of farmers’ daily efforts is not always known to young consumers who are more distanced from the true source of their dairy foods than ever before. The checkoff led focus group discussions with younger consumers, and we found most of them believe dairy farmers are good people who are doing the right thing for their land and animals.

However, we also found about 56% have never seen a cow up close, and the majority have never visited a dairy. So, knowing this audience largely gets its information via online sources, the dairy checkoff is heading there with a content-driven effort to share all that dairy farmers are doing in the name of responsible production.

Content has been hitting TikTok, Hulu, Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other channels to address topics we know are of interest to this younger audience, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and animal care. More and more, these factors are impacting purchase decisions.

This effort revolves around a common thread: A Farmer Is More Than A Farmer. The goal is to show that being a dairy farmer entails much more than just producing milk. Through stories and other content strategies, our aim is to offer a surprise element to consumers and open their eyes to the aspects of responsible production they never knew existed. Checkoff-created content will include video spots focusing on how farmers recycle water and feed their cows a nutritious diet, as well as how dairies generate renewable energy.

This is a national push with the checkoff’s 16 state and regional teams also active in sharing farmer stories. You’ll see us coordinate with some key moments in time, such as National Farmers Day (October 12) and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (November 30 to December 12).

We also are engaging our “Dairy Dream Team” social media influencers. These are people who have a strong and respected online presence, and they will be sharing the dairy farmer story to their followers. We put Dairy Dream Team members in touch with the best experts possible: our dairy farmers, who helped them better understand their dairies are much more than a source of nutritious milk!

Another important aspect of this effort is partnerships with popular media outlets, such as VOX and TIME Magazine. VOX will produce videos, podcasts, articles, and social media content about dairy’s sustainability journey, featuring farmers and other subject matter experts. TIME will publish a video and article that emphasize how water is a precious resource in dairy production and how cows are the ultimate recyclers.

This content is a great opportunity to show consumers who enjoy dairy but are seeking reassurances that it was responsibly produced. That, in turn, will help keep them in the category.

To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit www.usdairy.com/for-farmers or to reach us directly, send an email to TalkToTheCheckoff@dairy.org.

Don Schindler

The author is a Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc.