2011: The Year of the Dairy Farmer


1/31/2011 7:01 AM

2011: The Year of the Dairy Farmer It seems that showing off the farmer is cool again. Recently, I saw a California Milk Advisory Board commercial that featured a dairy farm family including the tag line “Real California Dairy Families, Real California Dairies.” The 30-second spot is a quick look at the farm and notes the fact that 99 percent of the state’s dairy farms are family-owned. I could not help but flash back to a local dairy checkoff meeting of my childhood, where the leadership decided to move off the “farmer themed” ads to focus more on product. At the time, they declared that the “farm-themed” ads were ineffective in encouraging milk sales. So to see these farmer ads, it looks like what was old is new again. “Dairy farming is a vital, important part of California that is made up of people, families and generations of history – not unfeeling corporations,” Michael Freeman of the California Milk Advisory Board said at the release of the series of commercials. California is not unique in connecting the dairy farmer and consumer. Many local retailers now use signage to tout how their milk is local and the farmers that are in the supply chain. The Pennsylvania Center of Dairy Excellence and local checkoffs helped with one store/farmer partnership. A group of Rhode Island dairy farmers organized a cooperative to sell their milk as “Rhody Fresh milk” and have found success with marketing locally with a website full of information on each of their farms. The number of startup creameries featured in Lancaster Farming has showcased local farms searching for niches to keep them profitable. Checkoff programs are training farmers to speak about life on the farm to local organizations and schools. Based on the work of farmers, checkoffs and dairy business it looks like 2011 will be “the year of the dairy farmer.” Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade, Special Sections Editor

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