A speaker at the recent joint annual meeting was talking about proactive communications efforts when he turned to the farmers in the audience and addressed us as “communicators.”
I’m sure some of my farming colleagues squirmed a bit in their seats at the thought of being labeled a “communicator.”
But the speaker’s point was a good one. We may not all have an opportunity to stand before a reporter or a room filled with school kids or influencers, but all of us do communicate about dairy and our lives as farmers on some level.
We talk about dairy farming at the grocery store or at church or most anywhere else we encounter people. And we may not all realize it, but people do trust farmers and they want to hear more from us. That’s for good reason as people are generations removed from the farm, yet they want to know more about how the food they consume is produced.
I’ve always admired a good spokesperson and I’ve seen my share of talented ones on the boards of Dairy Management Inc. and ADA North East as well as the other local checkoff organizations across the country. I love hearing a farmer effectively convey our story to consumers or the media and those who can speak with other farmers about our checkoff strategy. So many of them make it look easy.
One of the best I have seen is someone who rightfully was recently recognized for his talents and for giving his time so unselfishly: Charles Krause of Buffalo, Minn.
Charles earned the National Milk Producers Federation’s first Farmer Communicator of the Year award. He and his son Andrew milk around 300 cows on their fifth-generation farm. Charles was recognized for his dairy promotion abilities nationally and locally through Midwest Dairy and his willingness to be involved in crucial public-policy issues.
He was nominated by Dairy Farmers of America, which accurately described his contributions as such: “From teaching the basics of dairy farming to kids in a local classroom, at his farm or even virtually, to authoring a column regarding the importance of dairy dialogue at the UN Food Systems Summit to inviting his local Congressman to spend time at his farm, Charles is an unwavering spokesperson on behalf of his own farm, as well as the entire industry.”
We got to see Charles speak at the 2021 joint annual meeting of the United Dairy Industry Association, National Dairy Promotion and Research Board and National Milk Producers Federation in Las Vegas not long ago. He was part of a panel titled “Essential & Sustainable” and he provided the farmer lens to a discussion focused on these two important aspects of dairy along with experts from DMI and NMPF.
He didn’t disappoint in explaining, “Day-to-day, we’re producing this nutrient-dense product that’s good for animals, good for the economy, good for communities and good for the land we live on and that’s a great story we can share. Using the trust people have in us is the No. 1 thing we can do to get out there and tell our story and talk about the practices we all are doing, not just on my farm but all across the country.”
He then spoke about the power of our collective voices by saying we have “a simple yet very complex story to tell on what we do on a daily basis. Driving the narrative is what we’re able to do in this room, whether we’re speaking to people who can make decisions in Washington or globally. We’re poised to feed the country and people across the world and that’s a great story. We alone can’t feed the world, so we need to be partners across the ocean and dairy has to come together as a community worldwide.
“But U.S. dairy is a leader in that conversation and is following no other country. Everyone else is playing catch-up with us.”
Spoken like a true spokesperson!
Congratulations to Charles and all the other farmer “communicators” who are out there doing their part. No matter where and how you communicate, every voice matters.