When I think about the people involved in ag, one word describes them all: passionate. Farmers are one of the most passionate groups of people you will ever meet, but sometimes our passion can be a liability. The most recent example is a certain Super Bowl commercial depicting dairy in a less than positive way.

When I first watched the Mint Mobile ad talking about “chunky milk,” I was upset. Is a million-dollar advertising spot during the Super Bowl talking about chunky milk really something the dairy industry needs right now? My passionate side was taking over. But let’s be honest, if your milk has gone chunky, something’s gone terribly wrong. After a bit more investigating, I found similar commercials on the company’s website about carpet in the shower and using your fingers when eating dip not being “right.” I don’t think the mobile company was attacking dairy; I think they were searching for an example of something going wrong that everyone could relate to. And chunky milk is very, very wrong. I don’t think the commercial is the real issue here; the problem is the way we reacted to it.

I understand the sentiment; we get sensitive when anyone paints what we do in a negative light. But instead of becoming defensive, we need to use these situations to play offense. Don’t get angry and attack. Get inspired and promote. Use the opportunity to explain that milk has an expiration date because it’s a fresh, natural product. In a world where so much of what we eat is filled with preservatives, milk is still as natural as ever.

I’m not asking anyone to be less passionate, but I think we need to consider how our passion looks to everyone else. Have you ever watched someone overreact to a situation? You can’t help but feel embarrassed for them. When we, as a group, overreact to an ad that the rest of the world saw as a joke, we immediately shut them off to our way of thinking. You wouldn’t approach the woman in the store who’s freaking out over the fact that they don’t have her favorite flavor of bubblegum, would you? A consumer who watched thousands of farmers freak out over an ad that says chunky milk is wrong will never ask those farmers about what they do or why they do it. It already feels like we’re fighting a losing battle – can we afford to lose one more?  end mark


Jessica Peters is a dairy farmer in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Follow her farm on Facebook.