Telling dairy’s story takes a village, especially when milk is in the news

Telling dairy’s story takes a village, especially when milk is in the news

Return to April 2024 newsletter

Telling dairy’s story takes a village, especially when milk is in the news

By Darren Turley
TAD Executive Director

While the mission of the Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD) is to advocate on behalf of the state’s dairy farmers at the Texas Capitol and state agencies, that advocacy means telling the story of dairy maybe more often than it is talking about specific legislation or regulations.

Even when we’re not face-to-face with lawmakers, TAD tells the story of dairy every day, in conversations, on our website, through social media and even in this newsletter.

In our opinion, it’s a wonderful story we can tell with enthusiasm. But it’s also more necessary than ever, not only for TAD but for Dairy Max and other stakeholders who represent the industry.

That’s because our country and Texas are becoming more urbanized each year. It is estimated that 83% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, up from 64% in 1950. And while Census data shows that Texas has the nation’s largest rural population, it also has the second largest urban population and, similar to the national average, is 83.7% urban. Most of the general public is generations removed from the farm.

TAD also sees a lack of familiarity with ag issues when we visit with legislators at the Texas Capitol. Here’s an amazing fact: Of the 150 members of the Texas House, more represent Harris County, which includes the City of Houston, than the entirety of Texas west of Interstate 35!

Through no fault of their own, people don’t have a lot of knowledge about dairy cows, farms or anything else about where their milk and dairy products come from.

While storytelling is becoming more necessary in general, it is especially critical when dairy finds itself in the news, as it has in recent weeks. Media and public attention has been directed toward Texas with the outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus affecting dairy cattle.

During this time, TAD has been working with our industry partners Dairy MAX, Dairy Management Inc., and others to speak with one voice to represent our dairy farmers and tell the facts about the milk those farmers produce to feed the world. We’ve been speaking with media who, just like most individuals, live in urban centers and don’t regularly cover agriculture issues.

Our role is to educate and prevent misinformation, which these days can spread with the speed of lightning via the internet and social media.

First and foremost, we’re reassuring reporters – and through them, the public – that the milk supply is safe. We’re educating about the biosecurity measures dairy farmers take daily – and have amped up – to keep farms, livestock and employees safe. We’re explaining the care dairy cows receive to keep them healthy. And we’re describing all the standard safeguards that are always in place to keep milk safe on its journey from farm to table.

With those I’ve spoken to, I’ve found them appreciative of the information and, in some cases, amazed about what goes on daily on a dairy farm.

By working together, in good times and in crisis, to tell the many stories of the dairy industry, we can help people value agriculture and have greater appreciation for that goodness in the milk carton at their local grocer.

Return to April 2024 newsletter




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