June 16 2016 08:00 AM

There are only so many hours in a day, but advocating for dairy must be on a farmer's to-do list.

Hillcrest Farms

When a person decides to become a dairy farmer, they aren't choosing just a career but a lifestyle. As many of you know, dairy farming is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job.

Most dairymen and women live on the farm or within a few minutes because of the demands of the farm. It is nothing to be called in three nights in a row between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. for cow care, equipment issues, or parlor malfunctions. To some, vacations or days off are unheard of. Nine out of 10 times, the only time that you see a dairy farmer is when visiting their dairy.

The amount of work done on the farm on a daily basis is unimaginable to some people outside of agriculture. But, wait for it . . . I am about to ask farmers to do more. Yes, I said more!

Nowadays, the average person doesn't know much at all about where milk, cheese, and yogurt come from. Organizations like HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are doing everything they can to turn people away from animal products. Unlike dairy farmers, these organizations have time and money to try and give dairy farmers a bad reputation and downgrade our products.

So, who is helping us advocate for our products? . . . (crickets chirping) . . . no one but ourselves as a dairy industry. The problem is that accurate information and the connection from farm to table are not available to consumers.

It is crucial that we as producers get out and help people understand the truth about our farms and the milk we produce. We have to help bridge the large gap between producer and consumer. It could be something like creating a Facebook page to share information about your family farm to help the community around you become more familiar with your farm. Another way to teach people about farming and the food we produce is to host tours on your dairy.

Hillcrest Farms

It seems as if more and more people are shying away from milk because they think it is less healthy than soy or almond milk, or they are scared of hormones and antibiotics. We must try and do more to educate society. We have to do more!

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers blog footer
Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their "Daddy and Daughter Dairy Together" column will appear every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.

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