We know there is a growing trend among consumers wanting to know more about the source of their food and what it took to get it from your farms to their homes.
They are asking if you mistreat your cows and if you are doing the right things when it comes to managing the environment surrounding your farm.
What’s surprising is that some of the people asking these questions are still in elementary school.
Our consumer research shows that kids as young as the fifth grade are becoming aware of various social issues, including food production, and are forming their own opinions. Some of what they believe challenges the likelihood they will become lifelong dairy consumers.
Much of this is due to the proliferation of the internet and social media, where opponents of dairy and animal agriculture actively spread messages and mistruths intended to harm us.
So much of the work we’ve done with schools through National Dairy Council (NDC) has focused on health and wellness and the need to keep dairy in the forefront of childhood nutrition. NDC and its 100-year-plus mission has been a longstanding priority of yours. We’ll continue to place an emphasis in this area through Fuel Up to Play 60, which has a stronghold in more than 73,000 schools nationwide. This program is delivering the message we want, that health and wellness matters, and dairy is a nutrient-dense solution that has a rightful place in school meals.
But our recognized nutrition foundation is just one part of the equation of what schools can deliver for the dairy industry and you as a farmer.
So, what do we do about the kids who won’t consume dairy because they have been misled about dairy and agriculture?
Power of partnerships
We recently launched a partnership that is aimed to deliver the story we want -- your story -- to classrooms across the country. We’re confident this effort will change the way children – particularly those in elementary and middle school – look at you and our industry. And we’re doing it by following the model that has worked so well for other aspects of the dairy checkoff business strategy – we’re working with Discovery Education, another powerful partner that helps bring us through school doors.
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for schools. The company transforms teaching and learning with award-winning multimedia content, serving 3.5 million educators and more than 38 million students across the U.S. It has a presence in half of the classrooms in our country, as well as a strong foothold around the globe.
This partnership gives us unprecedented reach in schools to tell your story to an audience that desperately needs to hear it.
The program -- called “Undeniably Dairy: Caring for Cows and Nourishing Communities” – went live on Oct. 19. The effort is an extension of the broader industrywide Undeniably Dairy campaign that is designed to change the game on consumer confidence.
I stood with pride as I watched our industry’s story unfold via a virtual field trip to the farm operated by Colorado dairy farmers Chuck and Nora Feldpausch and their children. The family covered all aspects of dairy production and included insights from the farm’s veterinarian and nutritionist. They spoke with passion and credibility about the work they do caring for their cows and making sure the classes watching understood what it takes to get dairy foods to their schools.
What I experienced next, though, showed the true uniqueness of this interactive program. Kids in classrooms across the country asked questions in real time and got answers from real dairy farmers.
The story they heard wasn’t coming from those who aim to bring down our industry; it was coming from the most credible and trusted source our industry has: you, our dairy farmers.
More resources to come
Classrooms that shared the virtual field trip also were given a variety of digital learning tools and classroom explorations to deepen the learning of our industry. The initiative will expand this school year with more virtual interactive experiences that teach students about the latest industry technology and innovations. This content, by the way, is delivered to schools at no charge.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is making its intended impact by helping kids become healthier through more physical activity and better nutrition, which includes consuming dairy. That will never cease serving your goal of helping to create healthier future generations.
The dairy checkoff also is committed to doing what it can to assure you have a secure future, and that starts with building and enhancing consumer confidence in you and your products.
Our one-two school punch of Fuel Up to Play 60 and our Discovery Education program is making the difference we need to continue to thrive as the great industry we are, growing dairy sales and reinforcing trust in what you do.
If schools in your area would like to participate in the Undeniably Dairy Virtual Field Trip, direct them to www.discoverundeniablydairy.com.