June 28, 2021 at 1:31 p.m.

Young dairy farmers are key to building trust

By Shaina Kirckof Dairy Producer
By Shaina Kirckof Dairy Producer

By Shaina Kirckof- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

    With younger consumers being a critical audience for the dairy community to reach, National Dairy Month is the perfect time for farmers to share their stories and the sustainable nutrition story of dairy, setting the stage to continue these important conversations throughout the year. Younger generations often don’t realize dairy farmers are a lot like them, but we are. As a millennial, female farmer with two young daughters, it’s crucial to help consumers see themselves in me along with how they can feel good about putting dairy in their shopping carts.  
    Although I’m in the earlier part of my career, I’ve been farming full time for more than 10 years. And I’m as dedicated as ever to dairy farming and investing in the future of my farm. Because this is a life-long commitment, I’m passionate about sharing my story – and the story of dairy farming – with everyone I meet. Especially people my age who may have pre-conceived ideas of what it is like to live on a dairy farm or how dairy is produced.  
    My excitement for dairy farming and pride in what I do each day has always been something I’ve enjoyed sharing with others. Whether that’s at my volleyball league games, with my snowmobile racing friends, by inviting friends to visit or by sharing on social media, this is where my advocacy work began. And now, I’ve expanded my outreach to host virtual and in-person farm tours with classrooms and also advocate for dairy on local boards. I plan to continue being involved to help our dairy community.
    Why do I get excited to connect with others about dairy farming? Because there are so many people who don’t get to experience this lifestyle and connect with where their food comes from. I often find people have questions about what dairy farming is like. This is especially true for millennials (born 1981-1996) and members of Generation Z (born 1997-2012). These consumers are increasingly important for us to connect with since millennials have recently overtaken the Baby Boomer generation as the largest consumer demographic, and Gen Z is not far behind. I like to connect with others over shared values – animal care, our families, our life experiences and passions outside of our careers – to showcase who I am and who the next generation of dairy farmers are. This allows me to share dairy’s story in a way that is authentic and builds trust for the entire industry and ultimately drives dairy sales today and tomorrow.
    Knowing that videos are the No. 1 way Gen Z likes to receive their information, another way I’ve been sharing my story this June is through a video developed by national checkoff. Midwest Dairy connected me to this opportunity to highlight my love of farming along with my love of snowmobile racing. The “I Am a Dairy Farmer” video features myself, and many others from across the country, sharing our surprising hobbies. The goal of this high-energy video is to reach millennial and Gen Z consumers and show that dairy farmers are like them in many ways and are people who are working hard to provide for the world and care for their animals and the land. Since this video launched, I’ve shared it on a worldwide snowmobile website and generated a wonderful dialogue about dairy farming with people from all walks of life.
    When it comes to connecting with consumers, Midwest Dairy is doing a lot to help too. From creative partnerships – including with retailers, museums and schools – that share dairy’s sustainability story, to providing consumer-facing resources to dairy farmers, they are working on our behalf to build trust and drive sales across our 10-state region. As farmers, starting small can have a big payoff, and using Midwest Dairy tools – such as ENGAGE communications workshops, an activation guide and more – can make it easier to reach consumers. If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved, visit midwestdairy.com or contact your farmer relations representative. I hope you’ll join me and build a strong connection with consumers to ensure a promising outlook for dairy today and in the future.


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