Knowing how to tell your story prepares you for a crisis

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Knowing how to tell your story prepares you for a crisis

By David Volleman
TAD Board chairman
Wildcat Dairy

Over the last few years I have had the privilege of attending several industry training sessions for dairy farmers. These have been put on by the Texas Association of Dairymen, Dairy MAX, DMI and the Texas Animal Health Commission. These trainings have consisted of crisis drills as well as media trainings to help the industry tell the dairy farm side of the story.

The purpose of the crisis drills is to bring together everyone from the dairy industry for discussion and to work through a real-life practice scenario.

The most recent crisis drill, in September, was put on by Dairy MAX and DMI and included around 100 people from all of the sectors in the dairy supply chain, including dairy farmers, co-ops, haulers, processors, retailers, marketers, Texas Animal Health Commission leadership and even the FBI. The hypothetic scenario presented in this drill centered around a contamination issue that sickened animals and humans. Participants across the food chain had to war-game how each sector would react as the incident unfolded across several days, including how to deal with negative media and other issues that would happen in “real life.”

I have also attended the “Telling Your Story” media training hosted by Dairy MAX. The training is taught by an experienced media professional who goes through interview scenarios we as dairy farmers may be faced with, as well as ways we can share our farm story every day with consumers who don’t know what happens on a farm where their milk originates. This training was very beneficial and has changed the way I watch the news and interviews.

This past week, I was contacted by NPR (National Public Radio) to discuss employment difficulties on dairy farms. Due to the trainings I attended previously, I could confidently agree to do the interview.

The trainings also have motivated our farm, Wildcat Dairy, to start a Facebook page that helps us tell our individual story.

I would encourage everyone to attend trainings hosted by industry companies. We all have a role in telling our consumers the story of where milk comes from, as well as become as prepared as we can to weather a crisis and come out strong.

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