Putting a face on sustainability – new videos to help dairy families share commitment, progress

What is sustainability? Producing and providing goods and services in a way that maximizes benefits to people and the environment. These days, it’s a much-discussed topic among a wide array of industries, from energy and transportation to construction and even fashion.
 
It’s also clear that interest in sustainable food production continues to gain momentum. According to the Center for Food Integrity, more than 28,000 media stories were published on the topic in 2010 – more than double the 2009 figure and up five-fold since 2008.
 
As consumers, regulators, and opinion leaders seek more information about food production, agriculture must stand ready to answer this need. The need to communicate accurately and persuasively has never been more important. The good news is that the dairy community, from the farm to processing plant, has made giant strides forward. From solid environmental stewardship and providing top-notch animal care, to a continuing commitment to family and community values, California dairies have many good stories that are interesting, informative and worth telling.
 
To help get this important job done, in September Dairy Cares will release “Profiles in Sustainability,” a six-part, 30-minute video series chronicling the dairy community’s sustainability achievements. Produced in collaboration with the California Dairy Research Foundation and the Dairy Council of California, the videos will be available for viewing on-line at www.DairyCares.com. Interviews with dairy farmers, veterinarians, air quality scientists, doctors, registered dietitians, and teachers help tell the powerful and interesting story of the many efforts toward sustainability being made by California dairy families and throughout the dairy industry.
 
What is sustainability for dairy?
First and foremost, the video series informs viewers about the scope of what sustainability means to dairy families. Often described as environmental stewardship, efforts on California farms include protecting natural resources such as air, land and water through conservation, re-use, recycling and good management practices. However, sustainability also means properly caring for animals, by providing healthy diets, comfortable housing, and regular attention from veterinarians and well-trained employees.
 
The commitment starts on the farm, but it doesn’t end there. As dairy products are processed and transported around the state, nation and world, the new videos also examine efforts to achieve fuel efficiency, reduced energy use, reduce emissions and lessening of waste.
 
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, sustainability is about people. The videos discuss the unique, powerful nutrient package milk provides to sustain the health and wellness of millions of American families, and increasingly, helps to improve nutrition in other nations. Dairies also help build and strengthen California communities, not just through jobs and economic contribution, but through a multi-generational commitment to community organizations, schools, hospitals and other important philanthropic work.
 
Sharing the message
The Dairy Cares coalition will work diligently to distribute the “Profiles in Sustainability” videos to community leaders, customers and other interested parties. Dairy farmers, producer associations, and processors can also help share the videos by emailing links to local stakeholders, partners and customers. And of course, a very effective way to share information these days is through social media. Facebook and Twitter can be powerful educational tools for educating friends, neighbors and others in our communities about dairy’s commitment to sustainability.
 
Check-in at www.DairyCares.com in mid-September to view the positive actions – big and small – California dairy farmers are taking to operate sustainability. Viewers will clearly see that dairy cares about the planet, animals, people and communities while producing healthy, nutritious and affordable dairy products for millions of families and creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of Californians.