I have been waiting to write about this topic for several weeks. It felt like it was top secret. I am so excited to share with everyone that the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is now doing business as Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.
    With the new leadership of CEO Chad Vincent things have been a whirl wind at the milk marketing board. I went to many meetings with the other board directors to discuss the direction that we, the dairy farmers of Wisconsin, want the organization to go. We have always been able to make choices and pick where the check off dollars need to go through the annual budget.
    The focus has always been to drive demand for Wisconsin dairy products by using social media, retail programs, education and research. These are just a few of the ways that have helped make Wisconsin cheese become a brand name that is remembered by consumers everywhere. But there is a lot of competition in the dairy case, and the people making the purchases are changing.
    Tweaking and slimming down some areas will make way for a new strategic mission, vision and identity that will expand growth and opportunities is our goal. Every program was evaluated, reviewed and evolved to be as effective as possible. The board is always thinking about the best bang for the check off dollars, and there was the feeling that something special was about to happen.
    Since there are going to be changes in websites, promotion programs and big pushes in social media, this is the time to change the name. After all, we are ready. I have had to explain to people who ask the same question. “Doesn’t the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board market milk?” The milk marketing name is confusing, and it tends to make others think that we can market milk, but we can’t. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board cannot purchase the surplus milk and cheese and give it to the schools, the homeless or the food pantries. Marketing is a tricky word.
    So, what happens in the building filled with marketing professionals that create programs that can reach others? They make sure the branded name Wisconsin Cheese and dairy products get to the buyers who can purchase dairy products and market it to the consumers. They research to see what shoppers are looking for, what they are buying, and what we need to do to continue to bring new dairy products that will get to their tables made from our wholesome milk. There are people creating catchy stories and news about farmers and delicious dairy products to get to everyone that uses social media. They are going into schools and in the community to educate others about the health benefits of milk and dairy products.    
    These professionals in the brick and mortar building are not farmers. They are knowledgeable and vibrant specialists who are thrilled about their jobs. They love Wisconsin cheese, but even more than that, they love Wisconsin farmers. They know they are working for us, recognizing that our farms are the most important things because dairy farming is our livelihood, our family history and the foundation of the state of Wisconsin.
    With low milk prices and grain prices, it is a challenging time to be a farmer. This name change is coming at the best time to focus on Wisconsin-produced dairy products. This will create national publicity to get the word out that the dairy farmers of Wisconsin are the key economic engine that contributes $43.4 billion annually to Wisconsin’s economy. We are generating tens of thousands of jobs that support a variety of allied industries and helps our communities stay vibrant and thriving.
    Don’t get us confused with Dairy Farmers of America, a national dairy cooperative. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is the marketing and promotion arm for us, the dairy farmers of Wisconsin. And, please don’t get frustrated because the legal name remains Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, however, going forward we will be doing business as the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. Everything is still happening in the same building, 8418 Excelsior Drive in Madison. The website is now wisconsindairy.org, and look on Facebook for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, and LinkedIn, too.
    I am excited about the name change and the continued focus on Wisconsin dairy products. I’m certain that with all of this attention to every detail, more great things will be coming our way as the dairy farmers of Wisconsin. I can’t wait to see what the future of dairy farming will be.
    Tina Hinchley, her husband, Duane, and their daughters, Anna and Catherine, milk 135 registered Holsteins and farm 2,500 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wis. They have been hosting farm tours for over 20 years.