Dairy farmer leaders representing six Northeast states recently voted to approve the 2018 budget and program proposals for the New England Dairy Promotion Board (NEDPB) and New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC).
The action to approve the $5.5 million budget came at the annual meeting of the two organizations that develop and carry out promotion, education and research programs in New England on behalf of dairy farmers.
The meeting was held Nov. 9-10 at Killington Resort in Killington, Vermont.
“Our annual meeting brings dairy farmers from all over New England and New York together to hear about our dairy promotion successes, discuss challenges and share ideas to increase demand for New England dairy products,” said Jennifer Karl, CEO for NEDPB and NEDFC.
Highlights from the organization’s two main initiatives were presented to dairy farmers. These initiatives included the nationwide school wellness initiative, “Fuel Up to Play 60,” created by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, and “Must Be The Milk,” a New England-focused marketing campaign to educate consumers about dairy.
Fuel up to Play 60 is the leading school wellness program in the country with more than 74,000 participating schools nationwide, including more than 3,600 schools in New England.
Dairy farmers also heard from Amy Wagner, EVP of Global Innovation Partnerships, and Mark Leitner, EVP of youth wellness at Dairy Management Inc. (DMI).
Wagner reported the long-term trajectory of per capita dairy consumption remains on a positive path thanks to the checkoff’s work. A great example is DMI’s work with partners including McDonald’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. She said since the start of DMI’s partnerships, dairy sales have grown a combined 25 percent at those companies.
Beyond sales, Leitner said the need to continue growing consumer trust is equally important to the dairy industry’s future. He said the key to building trust is educating consumers who want more information about where their food comes from. They want to know about nutrients, they want to know their food is responsibly produced and locally sourced, and they want delicious taste and enjoyment.
Leitner said the “Undeniably Dairy” campaign, launched earlier this year, will build trust.
Most recently as part of this effort, DMI launched Discovery Education to reach students in the classroom with Undeniably Dairy messaging and materials. Students will take part in a virtual farm tour where they’ll hear from farmers on how they are stewards of their land and animals. Leitner added that more than 1,900 schools participated in the first day alone.
“We are excited to see this industrywide collaboration is already making a difference with 170 companies actively engaged in telling dairy’s story,” said Leitner.
At the conclusion of the annual meeting, the board of directors elected the following officers: chair—Heidi Dolloff of Springfield, Vermont; vice chair—Paul Doton of Barnard, Vermont; secretary—Debora Erb of Landaff, New Hampshire; and treasurer—Sherry Ouellette of Bridport, Vermont.
NEDPB is the local affiliate of the American Dairy Association that conducts sales promotions and marketing programs on behalf of local dairy farmers. NEDFC is a non-profit nutrition education organization staffed by registered dietitians. The two organizations share a board of directors comprised of local dairy farmers and work jointly to increase demand for New England dairy products.