Monthly Columns

Water has long been valued by farmers as a precious, finite resource to be utilized efficiently and responsibly. So it’s no surprise that today’s dairy farmers are dedicated to conserving, recycling and protecting the water we all share.  

As the 2012 presidential election takes shape, jump-starting the economy has been the dominant subject of the political dialogue. A key part of this conversation has been the issue of regulatory reform on topics ranging from banking and the environment to labor and energy. While this important discussion continues in the national spotlight, a host of important regulatory decisions and efforts will be made at state, county and community levels. These decisions, made much closer to home, often have a major impact on local economies and environmental resources.

California dairy families are justifiably proud of the contributions they make to their local communities, our state and our nation. And 2011 provided many examples of how these contributions have helped to build stronger communities, a better environment and a more prosperous economy.

Millions of American families will gather around dinner tables this holiday season to reflect and give thanks. Likely on the list of things to be thankful for will be the turkey, stuffing and many other holiday foods that fill plates and ultimately bellies.

Indeed, American consumers have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to food.  We all enjoy a plethora of delicious, affordable, safe and nutritious food options 365 days-a-year thanks to the efficiency, innovation and hard work of U.S. farmers and ranchers.

California is well-known for many things across our nation and around the world.  Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Disneyland, surfing and movie star governors just to name a few. But California has another important distinction as the home to an industry that nourishes millions of people across the globe.

A concerted, positive movement is sweeping the countryside.  Thanks to the advent of smartphones, flip cameras and social media, farmers are telling their stories directly to their consumers, neighbors and community leaders.  Look on YouTube and you’ll find videos such as “What we do on our family dairy farm” and “Caring for animals on a dairy farm.”                                                       

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.

In coming weeks, California dairy families will step forward with a new, pioneering initiative to further protect and improve water quality across the great Central Valley.

Thanks to a two-year effort by the Dairy Cares coalition and a dedicated group of dairymen from around the Central Valley, a special program that will help protect the environment, while significantly cutting costs for dairy operators, is about to launch.

Farmers know the statistic well – less than 2 percent of the U.S. population is directly involved in the day-to-day production of our nation’s food and fiber. Coupled with the fact most people are three to four generations removed from farm life, it comes as no surprise that consumers have questions about the hows and whys of farming, especially as they relate to farm animals. Many are simply seeking assurance that animals on today’s farms are treated ethically and responsibly by farmers.