An industry-wide effort is underway in agriculture to improve the image of the business of producing food, fiber and fuel. That effort includes those in the dairy industry according to Dairy Management Incorporated producer relations expert Joe Bavido.
"We have done quite a bit of research with consumers and have learned that farmer image is much more credible for a farmer to talk about his image than a staff person," Bavido said. "So we have tried very hard to develop a program that will feature farmers talking about what they do, and how they do it on the farm, and how they produce dairy products."
Bavido says DMI has worked with state and regional organizations across the country to develop an industry-wide network that helps address misinformation and the image of farmers.
"Nationally we have a Web site www.dairyfarmingtoday.org," Bavido said. "It offers consumers information on how producer care for their animals and the land while providing safe, wholesome and nutritious dairy products."
In the Midwest Bavido says Midwest Dairy Association has what it calls "People Behind the Product" - which is an extension of DMI's program - "Telling Your Story."
"The Telling Your Story program actually contains five separate categories," Bavido said. " One is Connect with Your Community, which is a public relations training that helps producers develop business plans to help maintain and improve the image of their particular farm in their community. Capture the Crowd training helps producers write and give engaging presentations, and there is media training called Control the Questions, which offers tips on giving interviews and answering questions."
The final two parts of the program are called "My Story" - which helps farmers develop interpersonal skills - and the most recent addition deals with using social media and helps farmers deal with misinformation they find online.