Skip to main content

Using the farmer’s voice to share dairy’s sustainability story

December 19, 2023


3 minute read

The dairy community is dedicated to addressing climate change and water quality while providing nutritious products that nourish consumers. Farmers truly care about sustainability efforts, and we must share that passion with those who can help tell dairy’s sustainability story.

Midwest Dairy hosted a virtual dairy farm tour to showcase how dairy farmers protect the planet’s natural resources. Dairy farmers Orville Miller of Kansas and Dominic Wick of Oklahoma participated as industry spokesmen, showcasing how they utilize technology, protect natural resources, and care for their animals to produce milk. Other special guest appearances from sustainability thought leaders included Dr. Marty Matlock, Dr. Kelly Wilson, and Matt Riggs, who also added credibility and expertise to the event.

Watch parties were held with both the Kansas State University dairy club and the esports team. The event was viewed live by over 100 sustainability partner groups, science teachers, health experts, and college students. Survey responses indicated a positive shift in how participants viewed dairy following the event, with a 30 percent increase in the number of people who reported they “agree” or “strongly agree” that dairy products come from cows that are treated humanely. There was also a 16.9 percent increase in the number of people who reported they “agree” or “strongly agree” that dairy farmers use natural resources wisely and are good stewards of the environment. When asked for feedback, one participant said, “I enjoyed the webinar. I learned a lot, and it’s great to see such innovation and creative thinking in the dairy industry!” Another said, “I loved how fast-paced it was and the variety of presenters.” A recording of the tour is available on YouTube. In addition, this event will continue to generate momentum for partnerships in 2024.

Through another partnership with the University of South Dakota (USD), Midwest Dairy built a connection with the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS). Through this relationship checkoff aimed to build trust in dairy with environmental thought leaders and those who especially influence college-aged students.

UMACS hosted its first annual conference at USD in Vermillion this fall and included Midwest Dairy in the planning. Local dairy farmer Annelies Seffrood shared their farm’s sustainability journey with students and faculty from various universities across the Midwest. Dr. Meghann Jarchow, USD’s Sustainability Department Head, also introduced and moderated the session. The conference also featured a very popular ice cream social, which has been requested to be returned as this conference travels around to other Midwestern states in the future. 

Dairy farmer Annelies Seffrood presenting