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Checkoff Watch: A completely unified marketing plan for dairy farmers across the country

Contributed by Barbara O’Brien Published on 03 January 2019

The past year was one of the most difficult in our community’s history, especially for America’s dairy farmers. As we turn the calendar and begin a new year, your checkoff staff – both national and local – are committed to placing priority focus on those areas we know are building sales of and trust in dairy.

Each year, the farmer board of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) reviews, provides input into and ultimately approves the Unified Marketing Plan (UMP), which reflects the strategic work of hundreds of staff and farmers in promotion organizations from Florida to Washington, from Arizona to Maine, and everywhere in between. Then those staffs collaborate across the country to put the UMP in motion.

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40,000 dairy farm families

The UMP is comprised of short- and long-term strategic investments, programs and partnerships, all aimed at driving dairy demand, sales and trust. Dairy farmers’ checkoff investments are placed strategically to stimulate category-leading partners to act, innovate and invest in ways that drive results faster and more effectively, and catalyze others in their competitive set to do the same.

In addition, we have developed relationships with third-party and industry organizations that share a commitment to working together to address major issues such as childhood health, hunger and sustainability … all of which serves to build trust with customers and consumers.

Building and maintaining that trust is key in light of the shifting business and consumer landscape we face this year and in the future, both domestically and abroad. Rest assured the 2019 checkoff plan is building on a strong foundation to help navigate the challenges ahead and to take advantage of those opportunities that will benefit dairy and dairy farmers.

2019 UMP details

Foundational to the 2019 plan is an even greater integration across domestic and international priorities in recognition of the global marketplace in which dairy farmers do business. Whether an individual dairy farmer’s milk gets processed for export or for local sale, all farmers, and the strength of U.S. dairy, are affected by global business trends and actions.

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Another priority is continuing to invest in and bring forth insights about consumer preferences and shopper behavior, global business, retail and thought-leader trends as well as science, nutrition and the environment to inform the plan and the work the checkoff does on farmers’ behalf.

In terms of specific initiatives and programs, the 2019 plan leverages a powerful mix of global and domestic partnerships, export strategies, modern marketing and the advancement of U.S. dairy’s social responsibility story and efforts working with and through the broader dairy community.

Farmers will continue to see partnerships with leading food-service companies and fluid milk processors drive immediate and incremental sales through product, menu, packaging and marketing innovation. Globally, the checkoff will continue to work through the U.S. Dairy Export Council to facilitate growth of exports and to co-invest in projects that assist U.S. food service, dairy cooperatives and processors to expand sales of U.S. dairy in international markets.

Through ongoing investments in nutrition science research, the checkoff will engage thought leaders on the vital role dairy plays in a healthy lifestyle and as part of sustainable food systems. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, founded by dairy farmers in 2008, will continue to convene dairy leaders, farmers and subject matter experts from across the community to define and unite on responsible practices and then to proudly share dairy’s story through the Undeniably Dairy campaign.

Finally, the checkoff will continue to build future dairy champions with youth across the country through programs like Fuel Up to Play 60, new product experiences via dairy optimization and a partnership with Discovery Education that is bringing the farm-to-table story of dairy directly into the classroom.

Why is the UMP important?

There are nearly 40,000 dairy farm families in the U.S., and while every farm is different, there is one constant: Each dairy needs to know they have an ultimate market for their milk, no matter how it is used. The UMP brings together the expertise of staff and farmers from all over the country to lay out strategies that help ensure consumers value and see dairy as relevant – even irreplaceable – in their lives, and that they trust the dairy community, including dairy farmers, to care for the land, the animals and to have a positive impact in the communities in which they live and work.

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It’s been 23-plus years since national and local dairy promotion checkoff efforts came together under the DMI banner – and today your staffs and farmer board members around the country are working in collaboration like never before. Our collective focus and commitment is to develop and execute the best unified marketing plan on farmers’ behalf.  end mark

Have any thoughts? We’d like to hear from you at talk to the checkoff.

Your Dairy Checkoff in Action – The following update is provided by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and dairy importers. DMI is the domestic and international planning and management organization responsible for increasing sales of and demand for dairy products and ingredients.

Barbara O’Brien
  • Barbara O’Brien

  • President, Dairy Management Inc.
  • President, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

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