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New website will educate public on dairy practices
By TIM ALEXANDER
Illinois Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A new website developed by dairy producers through their checkoff investment is designed with public education of dairy production practices in mind.

The site, www.dairyfarmingtoday.org, seeks to educate the 98 percent of Americans not directly involved in production agriculture about how today’s dairy producers care for their animals and their land while growing healthy farming businesses for future generations.

The site helps provide an electric component to Midwest Dairy Association (MDA)’s newest promotional campaign, “People Behind the Product,” according to Mel Kunstleben, a Paynesville, Minn. dairy producer and MDA chairman.

“Most people are three to four generations removed from the farm, creating a significant information gap,” Kunstleben said. “As dairy producers, we have an obligation to educate the public about modern dairy farms.”

The site stresses to consumers how dairy producers work hard every day to provide safe, wholesome and nutritious milk and make positive contributions to rural America, said MDA industry relations manager Marla Behrends.

“Their commitment to quality also means caring for their animals and their land. Dairy farmers are very dedicated to their dairy cows and making sure they are healthy and well cared for,” Behrends said to Farm World.

“In the ‘caring for the environment’ site you can see the practices they use to protect their land and natural resources. The site really helps put a face to dairy farmers and shows their human qualities, because we think dairy farmers are dedicated, responsible neighbors.”

Website sections include:

•Life On the Farm – Visitors learn about dairy farming from the families who operate the nation’s 65,000 dairy farms. Farm profiles, including some from the Midwest, include photographs from the farm and examples of innovative milk production and environmental practices.

•Dairy Dictionary – Consumers can access this easy-to-use reference tool which covers everything from antibiotics to whey, helping them better understand dairy industry terms.

•Caring For the Environment – Visitors learn how producers protect the land and natural resources by using modern technology, such as digesters, to reduce manure odor and upgraded lighting to conserve energy.

•Quality and Safety – Consumers learn how the U.S. maintains an antibiotic-free milk supply and the 10 steps dairy producers follow to ensure that quality, wholesome milk and dairy products are delivered from their farm to grocery store shelves.

Dairy producers interested in finding resources to help communicate better with nonfarming neighbors and community leaders can contact MDA at 800-642-3895.

Tools available include a Farm Tour kit, industry fact sheets, displays and support materials for community distribution. MDA will also provide training to producers who wish to represent the industry at community events.

“A positive public image helps to protect demand for and sales of U.S.-produced dairy products and ingredients,” Kunstleben said.

For more information, contact Behrends at her Illinois office, 309-376-2196.

This farm news was published in the Nov. 29, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

11/28/2006