Well, looks like they've done it again! Yet again, the major media sources (this time newspapers) have decided to run a story without checking all of the facts! This time, while it's not a direct attack on dairy farmers, it is an attack on our promotion group, Dairy Management Inc (DMI). DMI is under fire for promoting the consumption of cheese in partnership with Domino's. If you would like to see all of the misinformation corrected, please check out Year of Plenty Blog, where the truth is reported. I am instead going to talk about the most important "false" fact of the news story: DMI is NOT funded by tax payer dollars, but instead by hard working dairy farmers like us!
As a dairy farmer, we proudly pay $.15 per every 100 pounds of milk that we sell for the Dairy CheckOff. With 100 cows, averaging 85 pounds each day, 365 days a year, we produce about 3 million pounds of milk, thereby contributing over $4600 each year to national and local advertising, research, promotion, and nutrition education. About 1/3 of this goes to national (DMI) and about 2/3's stays local (Midwest Dairy Association). We are confident that our money is being spent carefully, because each of these organizations are managed by boards composed of dairy farmers, elected by dairy farmers. Each year, area dairy farmers volunteer their time to work (for those of us who don't have the time) developing and approving new ideas. These boards and organizations are also responsible for making partnerships with restaurants, schools and even the NFL! Recently, DMI partnered with the NFL to develop Fuel Up to Play 60....a program that targets childhood obesity through nutrition education (yes, diets rich in low fat dairy products!) and physical activity.
DMI supports nutrition, health and wellness with over 50% of their annual budget. Research is being done at various universities across the country innovating new products to promote wellness. I remember while at SDSU, 5 years ago, research was being done on making low fat cheese more taste appealing (obviously fat in cheese helps give its flavor, and as an industry we are working to improve the flavor of low fat cheese as an alternative for consumers). Research is also being done to improve sustainability on dairy farms just like ours, through management practices. Some of the local funds also support the Minnesota Dairy Princess Program....Princess Kay of the Milky Way; Not tax payers, but dairy farmers, funding all of these excellent projects.
DMI is a source of pride on our farm. As a farmer, we are also busy working to care for our cows and land, leaving little time in the day for promotion....that's where DMI steps in to fill that void! We appreciate their efforts on all fronts involving dairy. As a local dairy princess coordinator, I am greatly appreciative of funds to help educate kids and adults about dairy farming and products. But, yet again, DMI is funded by the dairy check off...not taxes. So....tax payers can rest easy, your money isn't funding DMI, dairy farmers are funding DMI!