In April, the checkoff-founded U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Dairy Council partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Global Child Nutrition Foundation to co-convene an independent United Nations Food Systems Summit dialogue (FSSD).
This event marked a key milestone in a comprehensive plan to convey dairy’s essential role in sustainable food systems leading into the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) this September, which aims to launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food.
I was honored to be one of a few farmers invited to participate in this dialogue, along with dietitians, school nutrition experts, scientists and others, even students.
I have been part of similar discussions through the checkoff-supported Global Dairy Platform, sometimes via Zoom, while I’m working, with everybody else dressed up, which emphasizes my background as a dairy farmer. This helped keep dairy in the discussion because more than once, someone would go out of their way to ask, “Why don’t we hear what the dairy farmer has to say?”
I sense increasing pressure from a small group of very vocal organizations trying to put the world on a path to a very low- or animal-free diet. It’s important to me that dairy farmers speak up about how we do what we do, to reach consumers and influencers with the facts about animal agriculture.
I made certain to point out that dairy farmers want to continue our long legacy of doing what’s right in terms of helping to nourish the world in a sustainable manner. A student in my discussion group, when asked to comment, told everyone he had learned something about farming he never knew – an important step toward educating the next generation about animal ag.
But I also emphasized that dairy farmers need to keep nourishing the world in an economically sustainable way. After all, dairy farmers aren’t in the business to simply produce milk and give it away. We need to make a living and feed our families and provide for our own next generations.
I also made it clear, and I want to make it clear with my fellow dairymen and women, that we are not to be seen as the ones to pay for all that needs to be done to improve nutritious global feeding. This cannot be another unnecessary burden on farmers, but rather it should be an opportunity for us to help improve how food systems value dairy.
These dialogues enable dairy farmers and executives to share U.S. dairy’s commitment to sustainably nourishing a global population, including the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals, Net Zero Initiative, the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program and efforts to reduce food and nutrition insecurity.
A summary of the groups’ recommendations will be submitted into the official UNFSS process. The dialogue I attended was just one of hundreds happening in countries around the world to capture perspectives and recommendations.
Taking a stand
We cannot allow a vocal minority to dictate a future that causes hardships for dairy farm families here and in other parts of the world. I and other dairy farmers are gladly participating in these conversations to make sure our voices are heard, and our input is part of the “what’s next” for global nutrition.
If we don’t stand up for what’s right for the world, and for us, dairy farmers will have a tougher job than we already have. We’re doing what’s right, and we must have the freedom to keep doing that.
It’s not enough anymore to just milk the cows and get the product out the door. We must be part of the dialogue that will ultimately shape our future and our grandchildren’s futures. Thanks to dairy’s place at the table, I am proud to play my part on your behalf.
- Minnesota Dairy Farmer
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.