It seems to me that the current slant of recent articles published by the NY Times and Washington Post is that dairy farmers need to quit promoting our products. Huh? In fact according to the Post we should have the check off program that we pay for completely eliminated. You mean to tell me we have come to a point in this society that as a businesswoman who pays .15 cents for every 100 lbs. of milk we produce with every other dairyman across America to advertise dairy products collectively is not a good idea? Well obviously I must be missing something. Let me start with the facts:
- The dairy checkoff program was created by farmers, for farmers, and is funded by America’s dairy farm families – and only by dairy farmers. It does not use any government or taxpayer dollars to promote dairy products in the United States.
- The discussion has overlooked DMI’s unwavering commitment to health and wellness. DMI helps the dairy industry keep pace with both consumer preferences and the latest in dietary guidance by sharing nutrition science, product research and consumer research, which the industry uses to develop healthier choices in dairy foods, including reduced-fat and reduced sodium cheese, and reduced-sugar flavored milk.
- More than 50 percent of DMI’s annual budget is allocated to advance dairy health and wellness efforts that are consistent with the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Those programs include: nutrition and product research (including research regarding the development of reduced-fat and reduced-sodium cheeses); the in-school Fuel Up to Play 60 program that aims to help children’s health by bringing healthy eating and physical activity to more than 64,000 schools; efforts to help build a more sustainable U.S. dairy industry; and programs to meet consumer needs, such as those with real or perceived lactose intolerance.
But let me take this to the next level and challenge the articles assertion that we are creating products that are high in fat and ultimately causing the health decline of America. Wow I am certainly complimented by their claims that we have so much power in how Americans choose to feed themselves and their families. Yes we helped Domino’s create a new pizza that is amazingly good with lots of cheese. No we don’t want you to eat it at every meal! This is precisely the point where the concepts of free enterprise will need to be inserted. We will only make those products that consumers buy. If consumers demand it I promise you we will figure out how to meet the need with the safest ingredients and highest quality that our dairy industry is known for. I mean we are all adults here and aren’t persuaded to alter our dietary needs/concerns based on farmers and their imaginary magic wand on our wallets. It makes me sick to think that regulations are now being considered on Happy Meals!!! This is a product for children bought by ADULTS! If no one bought Happy Meals then by golly McDonald’s would not have it on its menu! You see we have choices as consumers. If I choose to buy a happy meal for my children then I personally respond with white milk and apples. That choice was made possible by my checkoff dollars encouraging McDonalds to offer those healthy alternatives. In my childhood it was either soda or that orange punch drink and fries. Are you following the direction we have taken?
Allow me break this down for those readers of the aforementioned articles that might be still convinced that dairy farmer’s ultimate goal is to make everyone unhealthy with fat-laden products. In our house my three children who are under the age of 6 know that there are healthy foods and “sometime treats”. They also know that no matter how much they beg, whine, plead, scream, and tantrum I will not waiver on those things that they need to eat and those that are left for special occasions. You see there is no cartoon character, Disney movie, sports team, or dairy farmer that will persuade me to alter my plans for my family in having a healthy and well-balanced diet in the Dugan house. It’s my responsibility as a caregiver of the next generation to ensure my children are healthy and well-cared for. But I believe I am headed down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with the dairy industry, Dairy Management Inc., or our check-off dollars. Two words America…. Personal Responsibility!