By Brian Medeiros
Medeiros and his parents own and operate a 2,300-cow herd in the San Joaquin Valley, near Hanford, Calif.
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 quote from a dairyman, who might be facing tough times, can be sent to thousands of people with a few clicks on the computer mouse.
Dairy producers today live in a world of technology. But, at the same time, that world has many passionate and sometimes hostile individuals who are against production animal agriculture. These individuals and groups can spread a lot of information to a lot of people in a very small amount of time.
As a consequence, we have consumers who are misinformed and therefore want to see change in the practices that we have 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 that wholesome, nutritious product that we have always produced. Many consumers, however, now want to know where their milk is coming from. How it is being produced? How are the cows being treated? How is the dairy farm working as a steward of the land and environment?
We are headed into the new age of technology with a call to use it to show consumers what they want to know. Here in California, we have started 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, instead, families that are working hard every day to provide the consumer’s family a safe, healthy and nutritious product for them to enjoy.
With more than 99% of the dairy farms in California being family-owned, this is not a hard message to push. It is just a message that we need to work on getting to the consumer.
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 them that we care. And I know, as time goes on, we can only benefit from showing the consumer that we are here for them.
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