In a February opinion post on titled “Is Dairy the new tobacco?”, Gene Baur, president and cofounder of Farm Sanctuary, suggested the dairy industry has many negatives in common with the tobacco industry.

“For decades, American schoolchildren have had cows’ milk foisted on them, along with artery-clogging cheese and other fat-laden products,” he wrote. “Obesity and heart disease have become too common. Lawmakers are quick to speak against tobacco subsidies, and yet they overlook the fact that billions of taxpayer dollars are used to support and boost an industry that costs us billions of dollars in health problems.”

Baur’s post also blames factory-farming dairy production for environmental threats to the planet, antibiotic-related impacts to human health and more. And he’s certainly not alone in his opinions; the Internet is chock full of anti-dairy farming and anti-dairy product sentiment. More and more, the industry is being forced into a defensive position.

The good news? The Dairy Council of California recently debuted an app, christened DairyUP, that aims to help the U.S. dairy industry respond to the people who are buying into part or all of the negative — and often inaccurate — press.

“Dairy processors and their sales teams are often confronted with questions about milk and dairy foods,” said Tammy Anderson-Wise, CEO of the Dairy Council of California. “DairyUP can help processors answer some of the tough questions they might receive from grocery and retail stores, buyers and other entities who work directly with processing companies.”

The app provides information in an intuitive question-and-answer format, tackling six key issues, she noted. Those issues include dairy foods, dairy nutrients, health, safety, animal welfare, and environment and sustainability. And that information in available in a convenient, on-the-go format, without the need for an Internet connection.

“Members of the dairy industry and dairy advocates can use DairyUP when hosting farm tours, speaking at events or in small group settings to help them address questions about the dairy industry,” Anderson-Wise noted. “The information in this app will empower the dairy industry with accurate messages about milk and dairy products.”

Examples of the many types of questions processors might be asked and would be able to answer with DairyUP, she explained, include:

  • “Why is milk pasteurized?”
  • “Is it true that fat-free milk has fewer nutrients than fuller fat options?”
  • “Aren’t soy and almond milks healthier choices?”        

DairyUP is based on information that was part of the council’s dairy advocacy training program, which originally was in print form. Members of the dairy industry and the council’s board of directors said they wanted that information in an easy-to-use, mobile form, Anderson-Wise said.

“These days, cell phones are ubiquitous, and now the DairyUP app can be too,” she added.

To introduce the app to the dairy industry and dairy advocates, Dairy Council of California has been participating in industry events and trade shows, offering presentations to partners and stakeholders, and conducting direct outreach to its network of supporters, Anderson-Wise said. The council also included information about the app in its annual report and e-newsletters.

Free to download, DairyUP is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. Interested users should email to receive log-in credentials, she said. To keep it “current and credible,” DairyUP will be updated regularly, leveraging user input and emerging science.