Dairy farmers’ longstanding commitment to the environment and their stories of stewardship are taking center stage for Earth Day communications strategies led by the checkoff. Following Earth Day on April 22 and continuing into May, Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) said it will showcase tangible examples of real environmental progress being made on farms and throughout the dairy supply chain.

“At a time when the environment only continues to increase in importance with consumers, the great news is dairy has a solid story to tell that many people aren’t aware of,” said Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of DMI. “We have made progress and we have made commitments, and we continue to embrace new technologies that show how much we are dedicated to the health of the planet. Earth Day is dairy’s moment to shine.”

DMI said it will use its channels, including www.USDairy.com and its social media properties, to publish sustainability related content such as videos, articles and infographics highlighting farmer stories. Other strategies include cultural influencers publishing dairy sustainability content via their social channels and the recent release of a video from media partner Vox examining what would happen to nutrition and the environment if the U.S. dairy cow herd were to be removed. The video is based on the recent “U.S. Without Cows” study. The first Vox video on Cow Power was released last fall.

DMI said it also has been committed to a steady flow of media outreach that will continue. Efforts include leading influential sustainability media members on farm tours and creating a media resource guide with key information.

Finally, the checkoff has led efforts to build awareness with important audiences about dairy’s vital role in sustainable, equitable and secure food systems over the past six months, sparked by the announcement of the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals and Net Zero Initiative. DMI said it also engaged with thought leader organizations such as the World Economic Forum and The Economist Global Sustainability Week in March.

Heather Oldani, executive vice president of corporate communications for DMI, said consumers are increasingly looking for products they can consider “green” and companies and brands are making sourcing decisions based on sustainability commitments. She said DMI’s Earth Day strategy focuses on reaching three audiences to build trust and sales:

  • Thought leaders — those who consider themselves informed on the issues of the day. They are leaders and decisionmakers within their organizations, and they expect stakeholders to understand the climate challenge is a systemic problem interconnected with multiple global issues.
  • Conflicted health-seeker millennial parents – they are concerned not only about what they’re feeding their kids, but also how it’s made. They are expecting organizations and the people who make their products to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical in their everyday lives.
  • Gen Z (ages 10-23) — They are looking for authenticity and expect companies and brands to help them navigate the anxieties they face, particularly when it comes to global issues such as the environment. In fact, according to a YPulse Sustainability Report of Gen Z and millennial audiences (captured here as 13-39 years old), two in five young people worry about climate change every week.

Oldani said sustainability takes on an added focus with the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit this fall. The summit’s goal is to raise global awareness and shape commitments that can transform food systems to resolve hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and restore planetary health.

“It’s important that we tell the story of the incredible things farmers and the dairy community are doing to demonstrate their care for the land and animals in the realm of sustainability,” Oldani said. “More than ever, this is an opportunity for dairy and all of agriculture to stand up and say this is the essential role we can play in sustainable food production and one we’ve played for generations.”