Telling Our Side

June 1, 2010 12:35 PM

*Extended comments are highlighted in blue.


Brian Medeiros
Hanford, Calif.

Dairy producers today live in a world of technology. With the ever-increasing amount of social media--Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and all the others--consumers have a greater ability to share information than ever before. A message from a dairy producer who might be facing tough times can be sent to thousands of people with a few clicks of the mouse.

At the same time, that world has many passionate and sometimes hostile individuals who are against production animal agriculture. These individuals and their groups can also spread their message to a lot of people in a very short time. As a consequence, we have consumers who are misinformed and want to see change in the practices we use on our dairies.

Coming out of the recession and having consumers return to the stores, we want to be the first in line to provide the wholesome, nutritious product that we have always produced. Many consumers, however, now want to know where their milk is coming from. How is it being produced? How are the cows being treated? Is the dairy farm working as a steward of the land and environment?

We are called to use this new age of technology to tell consumers what they want to know. Here in California, we have started to do just that. The California Milk Advisory Board has unveiled its Real California Dairy Families campaign. We are working to show consumers that we are not "factory farms” but families that work hard every day to provide a safe and nutritious product. With more than 99% of the dairy farms in California family-owned, this is not a hard message to push.

When it comes to thinking about what we will have to do on the dairy as a remedy to consumer pressure, I don't think there is much to change. We are some of the most efficient dairies in the world and truly care for our animals. As every dairyman knows, without your cows being happy cows, you cannot have happy dairymen. We take care of our cows just as if they were members of our families, because our family depends on those cows for a livelihood, just as the families of my 20 employees depend on those cows too.

One thing that we need to change, however, is the way we communicate our message to the consumers.
We have only to gain from showing that we care. And I know that as time goes on, we can only benefit from showing consumers that we are here for them.

Medeiros' April Prices  
Milk (3.62% bf, 3.2% prt): $12.60cwt.
Cull cows: $72/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,400/head
Alfalfa: $170/ton
Cottonseed: $276/ton (contracted)
$280/ton (spot)
Corn:  $165/ton (contracted)
$177/ton (spot)


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