A Perfect Time to Share Dairy’s Story

Published on Tue, 06/20/2017 - 2:34pm

A Perfect Time to Share Dairy’s Story

 By Doug Ode

 In mid-June, approximately 1,300 people – including family and friends of all ages – visited our farm in Brandon, South Dakota. They enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast, cheese and ice cream samples, and toured our 380-cow dairy farm. They also showed off their artistic skills via a coloring contest and enjoyed a local musician – all in celebration of June Dairy Month. It was a busy day, and every year we question whether we will have the energy to host the event the next year.

A few weeks later, I can honestly say this is one of my family’s favorite events. What started out 10 years ago as a way to open our farm to our neighbors during a time of expansion has become an annual event neighbors eagerly anticipate. In fact, we begin to get questions in early March from people looking to mark the date on their calendars.
Why do we host this event every year? First, we are always excited to open our barn doors because we receive such positive feedback. I’m in awe of the number of families who eagerly ask a variety of questions. Some of the most frequently asked questions include: How many times do we milk our cows each day? How much milk does each cow produce? And how old is a cow when she has her first calf?  No matter what the question, it’s fun to respond and clarify any confusion. And because of our positive experience, we also lead a variety of farm tours throughout the year, hosting groups ranging from young students to senior citizens and veterans.
Given our positive experience and the impact I know we’re having, I’m calling on all dairy farmers to join us in sharing your own dairy story. Hosting a farm tour or breakfast is one option, but you can also share your story with students at a local elementary school or make a presentation in front of a community organization. And if you’re active on social media, you can also share photos and examples that highlight your farm’s story online.
After all, we know fewer people in our communities can visit a dairy farm. The information gap is one of the reasons why the dairy community recently launched the Undeniably Dairy campaign. As dairy farmers, we all know there are a lot of great things about dairy – but misinformation is everywhere, so it’s easy for some to get confused about what dairy even is. It’s up to each of us to take the opportunity to remind people how much they enjoy dairy foods, while at the same time showcasing the values, practices and innovations of the people who produce them.

The Undeniably Dairy outreach is about just that: delivering joy and excitement to people everywhere. The goal is to reintroduce dairy, and build trust over time with people who have heard enough about food and dairy to have concerns, but are not engaged enough to do much to look for answers. The campaign is focusing on getting people to fall in love with dairy again, and strengthening people’s emotional connection to dairy, while assuring them of our responsible production practices.
I welcome all dairy farmers to take up my challenge and share information about the undeniable goodness of dairy. There are a wide variety of resources available to help you be successful. Just visit MidwestDairy.com to get a copy of an On-Farm Event Guide that will provide a great resource for hosting an on-farm event. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has a wide variety of resources (at usdairy.com) available to help you share dairy’s story – including photos, logos, videos and recipes.
Without the participation from all dairy farm families, dairy’s contribution to healthy eating would not be happening. The work we do every day allows families to enjoy a nutritious, cost-effective and delicious product. It’s up to each of us to share our story to draw attention to this exciting opportunity.

About Doug Ode
Doug Ode operates Royalwood Dairy with his brother Gregg, with the guidance of their parents Bob and Marilyn Ode, near Brandon, South Dakota. He and his family milk 380 cows and farm 750 acres of corn and alfalfa. He serves on the South Dakota Division board of Midwest Dairy Association.