June is Dairy Month! Gather your friends and raise a glass of milk to this fantastic industry. This month, many checkoff-funded state, regional and national promotion organizations provide opportunities for consumers to interact with dairy farmers and learn more about where their favorite dairy products come from.
State and regional promotion organizations reach consumers through a variety of events, social media and other tools to drive sales. They also strive to create more dairy consumers by working with health professionals, school and industry groups.
Here in Indiana, the excitement of Milk in the Victory Lane takes center stage in May. Two Indiana dairy farmers from Milk Promotion Services of Indiana’s Board of Directors are chosen by their peers for the honor of handing the prized bottle of milk to the winning driver and carrying on this tradition. June Dairy Month is busy with events, including an annual Brunch on the Farm where consumers can tour a dairy, meet dairy farmers and learn more about the industry. Summer brings many opportunities for MPSI and Indiana dairy farmers to interact with consumers at the July ice cream social and August state fair.
I recently began working in producer and industry relations for the state promotion organization in Indiana and it is incredible how many opportunities there are for farmers to get involved.
On the national level, strategic partnerships drive sales by increasing resources to extend checkoff programs in the market place. In fact, for every dollar invested by dairy farmers, our partners invest more than $6. Partners such as Domino’s and McDonald’s are continuously adding new dairy menu items, including Domino’s American Legends pizzas that pack 40 percent more cheese and McDonald’s smoothies, frappes and angus snack wraps. In 2010, partnerships resulted in more than one billion additional pounds of milk sold.
Immediate results are important, but we as an industry must also plan for the long term by developing life-long dairy consumers. One method of reaching future consumers is through school programs. Fuel Up to Play 60 is a partnership between the National Dairy Council, National Football League and United States Department of Agriculture with the goal of improving kids’ health and wellness by promoting proper nutrition and physical activity. The program helps kids be successful by teaching them to take care of themselves by including 60 minutes of physical activity and eating nutritious foods, including three servings of dairy, every day. Adults are not consuming enough milk and studies show that kids who drink milk continue to do so as adults. According to Dairy Management Inc., 71,000 public and private schools nationwide participate in Fuel Up to Play 60.
Checkoff dollars also assist in protecting and promoting the image of dairy farmers and their products through the Telling Your Story program that gives producers the communication training and resources to talk to the public and media about their commitment to their animals, the environment and producing high-quality milk. Additionally, the MyDairy program is a social media effort to help producers effectively communicate using online resources. To get involved, contact your local promotion organization at DairyCheckoff.com under Local Checkoff.
Furthermore, the United States Dairy Export Council (USDEC) works to increase global competitiveness of US dairy products.
By adding value, increasing consumer confidence and building a healthier generation, your checkoff dollars are making a difference.