The Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) recently graduated Class 7. Well-spoken young professionals, both producers and allied industry, participated in leadership training in Albuquerque, N.M. They were exposed to break-out sessions, media training, and a panel discussion on production agriculture's perceptions and public image.
As part of the training in this two-year program, class participants interviewed two consumers in their communities. Some interviewees were friends or associates, while others were strangers who were asked questions in the dairy case in the local grocery store. When participants gave reports on their interviews with consumers, a surprising trend was seen. The participants who interviewed acquaintances were shocked to learn that these consumers were unaware of modern dairy practices. The assumption was that if a consumer knows us personally, then they know our industry. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
With so many consumers removed from life on a farm, how are they getting their information? If it is not coming from you, it is coming from someone with no firsthand knowledge. And with less than 2 percent of the population living on farms, agricultural spokespersons are outnumbered from the start.
So the next time you assume people know what you do, and why you do it, think again. Consumers are concerned about their food and animal care. It is important that the information they receive is accurate, and no one is better qualified to share dairy and agriculture's story than you.
To learn more about the Young Dairy Leaders Institute, visit the Holstein Foundation's website. Applications for Class 8 will be due the summer of 2013 for the 2014/2015 program.