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Foundation Watch: Donations educate consumers about today’s dairy industry

Published on 19 July 2017

See a need:

2016 consumer trust research by the Center for Food Integrity states that a majority of consumers know little about dairy farming, yet they have a very strong desire to learn more about how their food is produced and where it comes from.

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They want to know dairy farmers care for their animals, are committed to being good stewards of the land and are invested in their local communities. Consumers want to buy dairy products with confidence and know the food they eat is the safest and purest product available.

This consumer interest in farming creates an opportunity for agriculture to engage with them and earn their trust at a time when consumers can access information from many different resources. Dairy farmers must lead the conversation.

Fill a need:

The foundation seeks to shape a proactive and prepared dairy community, ready to rise to challenges. The ACE (Agricultural Community Engagement) On-the-Farm Twilight Meetings are an opportunity to bring together neighbors, community leaders and dairy producers to learn together and discuss important community issues.

The evening features a tour of the host dairy, followed by dialogue and ice cream. ACE provides a platform for open communication about important issues facing our rural communities.

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The foundation supports programs across the country that build public trust in what we do on our dairies. In 2016, the Northern Indiana Dairy Trail gave consumers the opportunity to draw the connection between farms and food while highlighting the important role of technology in producing safe, nutritious dairy products for the public.

Visitors had the opportunity to learn about animal care and feeding, milk production and the influence of dairy farming in the community and on the environment. Each farm shared their personal story while showcasing modern milk production techniques with consumers.

As progressive dairy producers are opening their farms to neighbors and consumers, they need to be prepared to speak and educate the community on food production.

One key way to bring this to life is for dairy producers to effectively communicate what happens on their farm today. PDPW’s Dairy’s Visible Voice training series teaches the listening, speaking and communication skills necessary for farms to engage positively with their communities.

Members of the community participate in an ACE Twilight meeting held at Norm-E-Lane Dairy in Chili, Wisconsin, operated by the Meissner family. 

Members of the commnity participate in an ACE Twilight meething

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“ACE meetings are an ideal place for our farm families to truly demonstrate their willingness to work with town officials and their neighbors for the betterment of our communities. What a great dialogue and setting for our community leaders to ask good questions.”
— Greg Andrews, UW Extension

ACE meetings

“Every farm should appoint someone to be its ‘visible voice.’ Public communication is not comfortable for everyone, and yet it is very much needed as we interact more and more with consumers and others in the food system. We are doing so many wonderful things on our farms, and we need to tell these stories.”

—Mitch Breunig, dairy farmer, Sauk City

Did you know?

Of all the voices clamoring for change in how food is produced, one voice must be heard … the voice of the professional dairy producer. PDPF funds educational programs and initiatives that maintain public trust in production practices like animal care, environmental stewardship and food safety.

Through its competitive grant program, PDPF supports educational activities that help the dairy community develop its people and maintain public trust. The next granting period is ongoing, with grant applications due Dec. 1, 2017. Organizations may apply for grants of up to $5,000. Visit dairyfoundation.org for more information. end mark

PHOTOS: Courtesy photos.

The following update is provided by the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation, which raises funds nationwide and awards grants and sponsorships for educational programs and initiatives that benefit the U.S. dairy community. PDPF is committed to uniting the dairy community on issues of common concern to achieve its vision of a professional, proactive and prepared dairy community.

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