Extending Dairy Checkoff’s Work in Nebraska

A Midwest Dairy Success Story

your-fifteen-centsEvery dairy farmer in Nebraska invests 15 cents to support the marketing of their products. Through Midwest Dairy, the “national nickel” and “local” dime are coordinated to bring national initiatives to local communities. The two levels of spending work together in our states. Neither can stand effectively without each other. They are intrinsically linked.

Examples of how Midwest Dairy utilizes this synergy for its contributors include:

FUTP60-eventsEngaging Schools to Sell Dairy – School children represent 100% of dairy’s future consumers. The nickel Nebraska dairy farmers send to DMI has created the most well-respected, comprehensive and widely recognized school wellness program in the country. Fuel Up to Play 60 is supported by USDA, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the White House and the NFL. Midwest Dairy has used its contributors’ dime to make this important program available to every school district in our territory. Nebraska’s governor, and all of the top state education and health organizations have publicly endorsed Fuel Up to Play 60.

This program alone reaches 903 schools in Nebraska with more than 319,000 students to develop lifelong dairy consumers among the state’s kids. Nebraska schools have received more than $394,000 over four years to enhance dairy’s Fuel Up to Play 60 work, and another $73,000 has been provided to Nebraska schools to support expanding the use of dairy at school.

Local dairy farmers, through Midwest Dairy, helped to fund a groundbreaking report called The Wellness Impact Report, showing the scientific link between kids eating well and their academic performance. It’s been sent to every school superintendent and principal in the state.

dominosSupport for National Partnerships – Nebraska dairy farmer contributions to DMI help fund national partnerships with McDonald’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell, Quaker and Pizza Hut. Investments through Midwest Dairy have local impact as well. In Nebraska, there are 89 McDonald’s, 39 Taco Bell restaurants, 100 Pizza Hut locations and 22 Domino’s Pizza outlets. Each one’s menu has been influenced by both national and Midwest Dairy checkoff investments.

mdfrc-logoResearch on Dairy – DMI and Midwest Dairy are both major investors in the Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center. Midwest Dairy’s seed money to place a dairy economist into the Midwest market, and a new report on how the Midwest can capture its share of dairy demand moving forward, are major contributions to the well-being of the dairy industry in our 10 states.

The University of Nebraska has received 2014 funds for a project as part of the Research Center’s work, and was included in our Research Forums. Another project is funded for 2015.

farm-tourConsumer Confidence – Nationally, DMI works to develop a framework of positive dairy messaging upon which Midwest Dairy builds its programs. For instance, the National Dairy FARM program and the Innovation Center’s work behind sustainability are communicated through Midwest Dairy’s social media, and outreach to a variety of audiences. Midwest Dairy staff, board members, industry partners, state and local school officials, and health professional leaders use these messages to advocate on dairy’s behalf.

Dairy education through activities at the Nebraska State Fair, partnerships with Ag in the Classroom, University Extension’s Ag Literacy and Day at the Farm programs, and other efforts impact thousands of people each year. Local members of the Midwest Dairy’s Farm Mom Network and other advocates help extend dairy information.

Midwest Dairy also serves as a funder and contributor to Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), directed specifically toward helping people understand the facts about farming in the state.

food-insecurityReaching Thought Leaders – In order for any dairy products to sell, those who influence consumers’ buying and consumption habits need to be dairy advocates. Midwest Dairy’s influence with thought leaders in Nebraska extends all the way to the governor and other state staff members, who are regular contacts of Midwest Dairy’s health and wellness staff.

With our place at the table and support from organizations like Share Our Strength and Hunger Free Heartland, state government and Women, Infants and Children’s programs, dairy products become a solution to health challenges facing people in the state.

Crisis and Issues – DMI has produced the model for all of agriculture in its national system for crisis preparedness. But, it’s Midwest Dairy’s crisis team who will be the ‘boots on the ground’ component in a dairy crisis; we participate in drills and involve Nebraska dairy farmers, veterinarians, state government entities and others in crisis preparation.

Sharing Market Information to Drive Sales – DMI, USDEC and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy generate massive amounts of market research, product information and consumer trends which Midwest Dairy staff members package and share with the major partners in Nebraska. The information allows us to fully utilize this dairy farmer investment to help grow the market. Dairy companies like DFA and Hiland access this information.

This information is also a valuable asset shared with retail chains like Associated Wholesale Grocers, with 90 stores in Nebraska, and Affiliated Foods with 180 stores in the state.

The programs carried out by Midwest Dairy Association in concert with the national dairy checkoff program provides the level of promotion support Nebraska dairy farmers deserve.