You may be thinking, “Did we really need another podcast?” There is so much competition for the farmer’s ear – not to mention a seemingly growing population of industry-focused podcasts – but we weren’t deterred to add one more to the mix for a very good reason.
The Your Dairy Checkoff Podcast is farmer-led.
It isn’t hosted by a talking head or checkoff staff member. The hosts are actual grassroots and board member dairy farmers, which brings authenticity to the farmer listeners. There’s just something appealing about farmer-to-farmer communications and farmers knowing how to effectively communicate with one another about the dairy checkoff.
The other key is: The subjects we address are those that are most on farmers’ minds. The podcast has tackled school milk, reaching young consumers through gaming and if donating milk to food banks helps farmers’ bottom lines. Very little is off limits, as evidenced by Episode 5 – “Is The Dairy Checkoff Really Working And Worth The Money?” – or Episode 4, “Does Dairy Benefit From The NFL Partnership?”
We have produced 10 episodes since launching last June, and each one has featured two farmers and two experts to support the 40-minute conversation. The experts are usually local and national checkoff staff, but we also have turned to outside sources, such as people who work closely in the school milk and gaming channels.
I give credit to the farmers for making this succeed. None of them have come to the table with any podcast or broadcasting experience. Sometimes, the two farmer hosts don’t know one another, but that all changes quickly. Our team gathers 30 minutes before each episode to make sure the farmers are comfortable and for us to answer questions about the process. Before long, as farmers always do, a chemistry develops – and it transfers very nicely once we hit the record button.
Full disclosure: We don’t script any of the farmers or tell them what to say. So, what comes out is raw, heartfelt commentary that speaks to the audience, and it is working. Our goal when we launched was to have 500 downloads of each episode, and we have exceeded this mark with only two exceptions.
We also have seen a subject such as dairy innovation surpass 2,000 downloads and streams. This conversation featured insights from Michelle McBride, founder and CEO of GoodSport Nutrition, who worked with the checkoff-funded Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and received support from Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and state and regional teams to create a sports drink featuring milk permeate.
One of the podcast’s best aspects is that it is a true collaboration of the checkoff federation. In fact, this podcast has its roots in Midwest Dairy, which began the Dairy On The Air podcast in 2019. Those podcasts, which are housed at Your Dairy Checkoff Podcast - episodes, laid a foundation for us to build from when DMI joined with Midwest Dairy and the rest of the state and regional network to expand our efforts.
Six state and regional colleagues and I map out the strategy and schedule. It’s a full national-local collaboration that works well, and it’s just fun to be part of.
Knowing how busy a farmer’s day is, the podcast is an easy way for them to plug in for checkoff insights while they are on the tractor, in the barn or parlor, or driving to a meeting.
The farmer hosts have had a great time, and we have produced engaging content addressing issues important to the audience that matters the most – their fellow farmers.
So maybe there was some initial risk of adding our podcast to a long line of other offerings. But making farmers the focus and addressing topics that are most important to them is just another way the dairy checkoff is working to make every drop count for America’s dairy farmers.
So, to answer my question, we absolutely needed another podcast.
Your Dairy Checkoff in Action – The following update is provided by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and dairy importers. DMI is the domestic and international planning and management organization responsible for increasing sales of and demand for dairy products and ingredients.