How did we get here?

OPINION

By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Friday, February 15, 2019

It’s like whack-a-mole. So many converging things are happening rapidly related to a ‘herding’ mechanism for the masses in terms of what we will eat in the future. 

Where did it all come from? How did we get here? Why is the science so flawed and against us?

What we see unfold via the EAT Lancet Commission and the Green New Deal over the past few weeks — not to mention the currently ongoing FDA and USDA deliberations on dietary guidelines and labeling for fake dairy and fake meat — has been a disaster gradually in the making. 

The wheels were set in motion 10 years ago, or more, and Dairy Checkoff was at the table in more ways than one.

Trouble is, until now, no one really knew about the seat at the table, the foundations, pre-competitive environments, memorandums of understanding and so forth. 

The connections, directions and alliances were unclear and clothed in happy talk about breakfast carts that put a half-pint of milk on every plate and maybe some fat-free yogurt and skim-processed cheese, excited talk about helping kids move more to lose weight, enthusiasm about putting farmers face-to-face with school children to teach them how they care for cows and environment (we all know that there are plenty of these efforts paid for by voluntary organizations and farmers themselves, FUTP60 can’t claim the ground on this part). 

What we did not see, due to lack of transparency, was the deeper layers of direction where dairy farmers have, in a sense, been funding their own demise.

This is not meant to attack people in the checkoff system working with good intention on behalf of dairy farmers or our nation’s young people. This series of articles I have been involved in has been a peeling of an onion that should have been diced on the table to pass the sniff test from the beginning — but it was not.

In part one of the GENYOUth series in January, we showed the steep nosedive in fluid milk sales from 2010 to the present. There is no shortage of experts who now point to the school milk changes as precipitating this decline and in fact costing dairy farmers a whole generation of beverage decision-makers who have and are now graduated into the New World Order on “healthy diets for a healthy planet” — despite the lack of rigorous science to support either in terms of milk and meat production.

There was no transparency in which primary dairy checkoff stakeholders could question the direction as the track was greased for where we are today. 

There was no transparency about alliances developed over the past 10 years — never mind the rather small detail of who paid whom for what and how many football players showed up to christen a school’s new breakfast cart. The IRS 990 figures reported in parts three and four of the GENYOUth series pale in comparison to the lack of transparency in Dairy Checkoff’s role as a participant educating and leading a whole generation of consumers, tied by an MOU to tote the government’s diet message.

There are two crossroads in front of us, and our dairy cows are standing in that intersection — mooing loudly for assistance, I might add.

Dairy Checkoff has taken the dairy industry down both roads — diet and sustainability — without transparency to its funding dairy farmers. 

Now, today, these two roads are converging at regulatory, legislative, corporate, media and cow-less protein innovation levels.

And the industry is splintering over what to do about it.

This conversation is at least 10 years past-due, and it is why farmers are fragmented, why they can’t come together.

You see, the template for the future is written for some, not all. 

It is written to be complicit in dietary goals that are not supported by rigorous science for our human health or our planetary health. 

It has been written, in part, with money taken mandatorily under USDA oversight from dairy farmers of all types and sizes to streamline “U.S. Dairy” into the New World Order of food choices that are on the cusp of substantial change with Silicon Valley in the picture with its billionaire-funded cell and yeast cultured startup companies needing this propaganda to launch their cattle-less dairy and beef protein. 

The FDA and USDA are poised to decide (and in the case of some labeling have already decided) how and IF consumers are going to be informed about what they are eating in the future.

As the deeper layers of the past 10 years of GENYOUth and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy are revealed — with their separate memorandums of understanding (MOU’s) signed with USDA during the Obama/Vilsack era, and in ‘pre-competitive’ alliances with the world’s largest food and agriculture supply-chain companies — anyone publicly revealing or questioning the direction of checkoff on this road, is now cast as a character of division, a spoiler of profitability, a misinformed stakeholder reading the writings of a ‘yellow’ journalist.

In fact, DMI has created a secret facebook group for discussion of Dairy Checkoff questions and concerns. Participation is by invitation. Checkoff staff — hired by all dairy farmers through their mandatory checkoff dollars — are the gatekeepers, deciding who can join the group-think.

To understand where this is all leading, the crossover alliances between GENYOUth and the EAT Lancet Commission are known. (See related story here).

Dairy Checkoff is smack dab in the middle and has been for some time. That’s where you want to be if you want to influence a debate. But thus far, the direction of influence is questionable, naive and opaque at best, and has at worst created winners and losers among our nation’s dairy farmers, individually and regionally.

The global agenda unfolding right now has been years in the making. The deeper layers of the work at that table where Dairy Checkoff has had a seat — and its impact on the dairy farmers who collectively funded that seat — has been quietly pursued… until now.

Consumers have been telling us what they want: simple, flavorful, natural, real food. That’s what dairy and livestock producers do best!

But instead of marketing to that desire, instead of bolstering our consumer ranks by feeding that desire, the industry and checkoff have aligned us with government and corporate and special interests who want to shape and restrain those choices for future generations, by using our children as change agents for an agenda that has not been transparent, nor adequately discussed, by its funding stakeholders… until now.

Now, the global agenda has hit play in the public domain, and many of us are trying to find the rewind button.

Stay tuned. We’re not done.

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‘Milk Baleboards’ are a ‘thing’, with a website!

Producers unite to send clear message to policymakers and consumers, website takes it to the next level.

Nelson Troutman (above) is a dairy farmer. He has made 20 Milk Baleboards and offers these DIY Tips with illustrations at the end of this story.

By Sherry Bunting, from Farmshine, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

RICHLAND, Pa. — Nelson Troutman has been making the ‘Milk Baleboards’ since January. The Berks/Lebanon County dairy farmer came up with the idea after the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board listening session in December.

“It’s very important that the bales all have the same message: ‘Drink Local Whole MILK — 97% FAT-FREE.’ Don’t try to get funny with it. You could take the ‘local’ off and just focus on the ‘whole milk,’ but mainly to have impact, we want the bales to have the same message,” he said while painting bales in his shop during my visit last Saturday morning to the farm where he and his wife Mary live and which is now rented to a young couple for their dairy herd.

He still farms the land he has lived on his entire life, and he makes the feed for that herd and his son’s herd nearby. (In fact his daughter in law Renee wrote about whole milk recently, with a historical twist!)

Nelson has made 20 Milk Baleboards so far (check out his DIY tips at the end of this story). And he has seen new ones pop up from others following suit.

He has had 10 phone calls from fellow farmers as far away as New York, and has talked to so many more at meetings — out and about. He tells them: “Put a bale out… unless you are satisfied with your milk price.”

Did he think it would take off like it has? “No I didn’t,” he says. But he’s glad to see others joining in and hopes to see it catch on even more.

Retired agribusinessman Bernie Morrissey of Robesonia has been doing all he can to get other agribusinesses to put them out. In addition to Morrissey Insurance having one on their property along Rte 272 north of Ephrata, the Milk Baleboards are popping up along other main routes like 23, 322, and 422, to name a few.

“Our advertising checkoff dollars just didn’t seem to be doing a very good job these past 10 years. They have been promoting fat free and low-fat 1% milk and the fat free yogurt — not much whole milk,” Nelson relates.

“After the listening session with the PMMB, some of us were talking. We thought it was time to do something different, something like letting consumers know whole milk is 97% fat free,” he said further. “We didn’t come up with a plan that day. We were thinking about a billboard, but that was far too expensive. We thought about portable signs.”

Then over the weekend after that December meeting, he looked around. “I thought to myself that I already have the perfect thing: A wrapped hay bale! So, I painted one. I set it in the pasture at our crossroad. We farmers have silos, wagons, barns and sheds we can paint signs on.”

Lots of feedback has come in, and it seemed no one knew whole milk was 97% fat free. Some said “why are we drinking 2% milk, when whole milk tastes so much better?”

Nelson observes that young and older people said they never thought about how much fat or nutrition is in milk. “It seems so sad how people are misled by our checkoff dollars, our doctors and medical people — and our federal dietary guidelines committee.”

He admits that people are easily confused. To be sure, the bales are attracting attention, leading to questions.

While it started out as a way to send a clear and unified message to consumers and especially policymakers, Nelson said the information is so surprising to people that it offers educational opportunities.

That’s why R&J Dairy Consulting invited Nelson and Bernie to a meeting of dairy farmers last Friday to see what could be done to use this teachable moment.

The group decided to purchase a website domain — 97MILK.com, and direct people there to learn more: What is whole milk? How does it compare? What is Real Milk, Local Milk?

The website can help unite these efforts, and bring additional excitement to the project. For example, at the meeting organized by R&J Consulting, their marketing manager Jackie Behr said when she asked peers what questions they have about milk, she ended up with a whole list.

“Let’s use this opportunity to educate consumers and help them make a good choice,” she said. The group decided to start out with key simple answers to frequent questions. Many businesses and people are pulling together in various ways that it is impossible to name them all here. That will come in a future Milk Baleboard update.

Jackie at R&J, with some help from others, got the website 97milk.com up and running within seven days. This includes a facebook page @97Milk, so check it all out!

Want to make a Milk Baleboard? Here are Nelson’s DIY tips:


1) Keep the message the same: Drink Local Whole MILK — 97% FAT FREE (or now that there is a website, omit ‘Drink’ on a Round Bale and put the website 97MILK.com top or bottom.)

2) Get the right paint! Rustoleum Ultra Cover 2X paint and primer.

3) Use the small foam brushes and buy extra. This paint doesn’t wash out, so they can’t be re-used. Foam brushes can be turned for thick or thin letters.

4) Wear gloves, this paint will be with you a while if you don’t.

5) Before painting, sketch out a guide with a pen.

6) 97% is the largest and in making the percent-sign, put the circles parallel to each other and the slanted line in between to keep it straight.

7) Find the middle and that’s where the “I” in Milk goes, then build on that.

8) Letters are placed every 2.5 inches for “Local Whole,” and adjust others accordingly.

9) Spray paint onto foam brush, then apply to bale in strokes from the bottom to the top of each letter.

10) Alternate between colors (Blue/Red or Black/Red).

11) Make the letters broader and thicker for the word MILK, in all capital letters.

12) Follow your guide and use paint to even things out as you go.

13) Paint will dry faster and better, with fewer runs (in winter) if painting in sunshine or with a heater running in the shop.

14) Sit them on a pallet for better visibility on property you have along roads and set back from intersections.

Even in worst of times, milk stayed true

Let’s work to put some pressure on our elected representatives to stop this immoral travesty of sub-par nutrition to our children. — Renee Troutman

This letter, which ran on the cover of Farmshine, February 15, 2019, is republished here with permission.

By Renee Troutman, Myerstown, Pennsylvania

Recently in my children’s history lessons about World War I we were learning specifically about war efforts on the home front to ration and save food so there would be enough for our soldiers and European countries ravaged by war. Americans were asked to save on wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. They selflessly sacrificed things like beef, pork, and candy. They ate more vegetables and used fruit preserves to sweeten their desserts. Not a crumb of bread was wasted.

In each history lesson we also read some form of original history, whether it be a speech, newspaper article, songs, or letters. This time we read excerpts from a popular 1918 publication called Foods That Will Win the War and How to Cook Them that gave recipes and tips to help with the rationing efforts. There was a section about using milk and I thought it was very interesting. Here’s what it says:

“To Save Milk: Use it all. Buy whole milk and let the cream rise. Use this cream, and you secure your milk without cost. Economize on milk and cream except for children. The children must have milk whole. Serve buttermilk. Serve cottage cheese regularly in varying forms. It is especially nutritious. Use cheese generally.”

Is anyone else as intrigued as I am that even during times when rationing food was a necessity, the thought of giving remnants of milk to children wasn’t even a consideration? Conventional wisdom and common sense knew that children going through the most critical growth periods of their lives needed whole milk for proper development. In no way was anyone going to suggest that children be deprived of nutritious, dietary fat. Many vitamins in milk are fat soluble and calcium absorption is aided with the fat so giving children anything less made that nutrition null and void. Nobody was going to do that to children and nobody did.

But yet, 100 years later, while we’re supposedly drowning in surplus milk, here we are giving our children nutritional remnants of milk because the government tells us to. Whole milk has somehow been villainized even though milk has been heralded as a sacred nutritional staple for millennia. Our national security is now being compromised as we lose farms daily to financial ruin as milk drinkers are dismayed at the blah of skim milk. And, to add insult to injury, farmers are shooting themselves in their own foot as promotion money forcibly taxed off of their meager milk checks is used to push this erroneous and devastating no-fat/low-fat message.

Our children deserve so much better. We produce an abundance of wholesome, nutritious, and delicious milk in this country. I’d really like to know why we are mandated by the government to only give ourselves measly remnants. The tide needs to turn, and fortunately, I think it is.

Let’s work to put some pressure on our elected representatives to stop this immoral travesty of sub-par nutrition to our children. Call your U.S. Congressman to make HR 832 Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019 to happen and fast. Do whatever you can yourself to educate the public about the truth and goodness of whole milk and let’s make the consumers we provide for confident and excited about using our whole product again and not just the measly remnants of it. 

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‘Consumers are smarter than us, they are buying more fat.’

Covington more optimistic for dairy in 2019

(Above) Calvin Covington is the retired CEO of Southeast Milk, Inc. and formerly with American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey. He has published many articles in Hoards Dairyman and other publications and is respected for his insights on milk marketing. Covington came to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania from his home in North Carolina on Jan. 29 to talk about dairy markets — from the Northeast perspective — at the R&J Dairy Consulting winter dairy meeting. The previous week, Covington spoke at the Georgia Dairy Conference in Savannah, giving the Southeast outlook and perspective there. He also shared with producers that butterfat is driving milk check value because consumers are smart, they are choosing whole milk, butter and full-fat natural cheeses. He urged producers to hold their industry organizations accountable on selling and promoting fat and flavor. He encouraged farmers to focus on pounds of components to improve milk prices at the farm level.

By Sherry Bunting, from Farmshine, February 1, 2019

EAST EARL, Pa. — Bringing a bit of good news, along with good understanding, of dairy markets, Calvin Covington kicked off R&J Dairy Consulting’s winter dairy seminar Tuesday (Jan. 29) talking about what needs to happen for milk prices to improve.

He had the full attention of the 300 dairy producers who gathered at Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl for the meeting, where they learned that Covington anticipates 2019 Federal Order blend prices in the Northeast to improve by $1.00 to $1.50 in 2019 compared with 2018.

“But it’s going to be a walk, not a run. they will move up gradually,” he said. “Last year, I was pessimistic. This year, I am a lot more optimistic.”

Covington also talked about the “4 C’s” that need tochange as the major factors to improve farm level milk prices: Consumption, Cow numbers, Components and Cooperation.

“The most important is consumption,” said Covington. “What is the consumer telling us?”

He showed a graph of how overall dairy consumption has steadily increased on a solids basis from 2000 though 2018, and he displayed a chart (above) showing that the consumer is telling us they want the milkfat — that it’s the solids in the milk — the bufferfat and protein — that give milk value.

“Exports are growing. That’s where most of our growth in demand has been coming from… but we export commodities — milk powder, whey, lactose,” he said. “We export very little butter and cheese.”

While he said exports are of course important to the milk check, he emphasized the need to focus on domestic demand, which has been overlooked and “presents real opportunity. What can we do to lift domestic demand and make that happen?”

In a word, said Covington: “Milkfat. That’s number one. We in the dairy industry need to talk about milkfat and not hide behind it not wanting things to change. Consumers are a whole lot smarter than we are. They are figuring it out. They are buying more fat… and we need to sell thatt.”

He said that the average fat content of all types of fluid milk sales from fat-free to whole milk — nationwide — is 2%.

“If that moved up by just 1/4 to 1/2 of 1 percent, the difference in farmer milk checks would be substantial. Fluid milk sales have been declining (in total), but whole milk sales are up three years in a row,” Covington explained.

“Consumers want that taste, and we’re not talking about it.”

He also pointed out how per capita butter consumption is at its highest point in over 10 years.

“That’s big, and that’s why the butterfat price in your milk check is double the protein price,” said Covington, explaining that in addition to butter, natural cheeses are one-third fat, that we forget about.

“Natural cheese consumption is higher, but it’s the processed cheeses, that contain less fat, that are moving lower,” he said.

He noted that for many years, the research said fat is bad for us.

“Now smart people are showing this to be false and we have books and articles about how butter, cheese and whole milk are good for us.”

Covington noted that what the industry needs to focus on is giving consumers more of what they want and not being afraid to “sell more fat. That will up your milk price,” he pointed out, encouraging producers to focus on pounds of components because this is the majority of how their milk price is determined.

He shared a story about meeting Queen Elizabeth in England with one of the oldest Jersey herds in the world. Those cows produce more than 6% fat, and that’s what she drinks and she’s 92 years old.

He also observed that the Queen knows as much about cows and agriculture as about anyone he’s met.

Look for more highlights and details from Covington’s fascinating discussions and his 2019 market outlook for the Northeast and the Southeast in a future Farmshine.

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It’s 4th and 40 with 4 seconds on the clock, backed up to our own endzone…

Web-based FUTP60’s branding is long on NFL, short on dairy, while funding is long on dairy, short on NFL

By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Feb. 8, 2019

BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — Since 2010, Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) has been GENYOUth’s flagship program, a marriage between the NFL’s Play 60 initiative for students to participate in 60 minutes of exercise daily and the Fuel Up portion touted by DMI and underpinned by USDA, focusing on healthy eating, defined as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, including fat-free and low-fat dairy. This is a program where dairy checkoff outspends the NFL $4 to $1.

In its 2016-18 report “Building the Evidence Base for FUTP60,” published in January 2018 and available here, the FUTP60 program is called “the nation’s largest in-school wellness program with over 73,000 enrolled schools.” The report states further that, “FUTP60 aims to improve K-12 school nutrition and physical activity environments using a student-centered approach and social marketing tactics along with promising practices for creating positive, incremental environmental changes.”

The team regularly tracks key indicators of program reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance, according to the report.

An illustrative infographic documents progress through educator surveys, reporting in January 2018 that of the 38 million students in the 73,000 enrolled schools, 13 million were “actively engaged” in the program.

Under healthy eating, the report states that “because of FUTP60, 14 million students are eating healthier, consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) and that 18 million students are more physically active.” 

But there are no surveys tracking actual food selections as the impact data are self-reported as “educator insights.”

In fact, all of these numbers are self-reported as the fine print states: “Data are based on a combination of annual FUTP60 Utilization Survey of almost 10,000 educators nationwide, funds for FUTP60 reporting and program enrollment data.”

So, just 10,000 educators are surveyed for the report, but 73,000 schools are said to be enrolled.

According to the Jan. 2018 report, the GENYOUth funding supported the following items in 2016-17: 2333 breakfast carts, 2,338 school kitchen equipment upgrades, 1833 projects to create active classrooms, 244 projects to improve physical education, 1984 school-wide walking clubs, and 741 cafeteria makeovers.”

The report describes the funding as “generously donated by America’s dairy farmers, U.S. corporations, non-profit organizations and philanthropies.” (Table 1).

FUTP60 was founded in 2009. GENYOUth was licensed as a non-profit in 2010, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by the National Dairy Council, NFL and USDA in 2011. IRS 990 forms for 2014-16 available at guidestar.org show dairy farmer checkoff organizations are the single largest contributor to GENYOUth – outspending the NFL $4 to $1, while bound by the MOU signed with USDA to not use the platform to advertise. Meanwhile, the entire program is clothed in NFL branding and USDA dietary dogma. Table compiled by Sherry Bunting with available 990s for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Peer-reviewed articles mostly studied the design of the program. However, a 4-year (2011-15) review of the impact of FUTP60 was published in the March 2017 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, available here.

The authors studied participants in schools within the 32 NFL franchise markets, including a range of 50,000 to 100,000 students from just 497 schools (not 10,000 nor 73,000 schools). These 497 schools completed FitnessGram assessments annually for 2011-2015. Program participation was not required, and its implementation was evaluated each year through self-reported school surveys. 

The study measured the main outcomes of aerobic capacity and Body Mass Index (BMI) of students. Results showed that about 19% of the 497 schools were “classified as FUTP60 programming schools.”

Annual improvements in aerobic capacity were “significantly greater in schools that participated in the programs for both girls (3%) and boys (2.9%) compared with non-program schools. The annual improvements in BMI Healthy Fitness Zone achievement were also higher in girls (1.3%) and in boys (1.2%) from schools that participated in the program vs. those that did not.”

The report stated that schools implementing the programs for the entire 4-year period tended to have better improvements in aerobic capacity than schools enrolled for only 2 or 3 years.

Still, the study authors concluded that, “The results … support the utility of the NFL Play 60 physical activity promotion programs for improving youth aerobic capacity and potentially helping to reverse the prevalence of overweight / obesity. However, the overall program adoption rate is low.”

Most of the FUTP60 program is web-based, with toolkits for lead educators at participating schools. In fact, IRS Form 990s for 2014-16 show that of the $7 to $10 million in funds received annually through checkoff and other organizations, roughly $3 to 4 million was used annually in the form of grants to qualifying schools and of the remaining $4 to $6 million, an average of just $109,000 (roughly 1%) from 2014 through 2016 was used for printing or publishing materials.


FUTP60 is mainly a web-based program where a playbook and toolkits are available for schools to choose one healthy eating play and one physical activity play to implement to qualify for up to $4000 a year for physical activity or foodservice equipment or projects. The playbook branding is long on NFL branding, short on dairy. DMI cites the mobile breakfast carts as a ‘prime mover’ for students to consume more fat-free and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese that are among the breakfast options offered.

The detailed website is augmented by NFL ‘Play60’ apps that students can download and use on electronic devices to participate in ‘virtual challenges’ relating to movement and activity.

The less than $1 million contributed by the NFL and the larger number Commissioner Goodell articulates based on ‘services’ can be considered as furthering the advertising value for the NFL — attracting future generations to the game while attracting schools to participate in FUTP60. The FUTP60 infographic explains how the NFL “brings excitement to school wellness”… with these 2016-17 statistics: 2700 NFL players, mascots and cheerleaders visited schools, 4200 local events were held, 12,000 flag (football) kits were donated to schools to get over 6 million students moving more, and over $1 million in hometown grants were donated to schools.”

It is certainly true that there is plenty of NFL branding in this program under the auspices of “bringing NFL excitement to physical activity” — even though…

America’s dairy farmers — through their mandatory checkoff organizations — outspend the NFL $4 to $1, according to available 2014, 2015 and 2016 IRS 990s at guidestar.org

Even the video spots created by DMI for this year’s social media lead-up to the 53rd Super Bowl were long on NFL branding and short on dairy messaging. Read more about that, here.

Again, the Youth Improved Incorporated Foundation, doing business as GENYOUth, is short on dairy and long on NFL.

FUTP60 is largely a program focusing on physical activity, and there are other areas of youth wellness that are being added each year.

This year’s new foray for GENYOUth is sleep studies. The new big thing in weight-loss is getting enough sleep.

As it grows, GENYOUth’s founding and primary funding is by dairy farmers who see their message diluted – just like the flavor of their milk at the school lunch counter or mobile breakfast cart.

The thinking is that fat-free and low-fat dairy can be quietly positioned for the future within this overall youth wellness effort. Insiders put stock in the mobile breakfast carts that schools can earn using FUTP60 healthy eating and physical activity ‘plays’ to score ‘touchdowns’.

DMI staff point to these breakfast carts as opportunities for children to consume more fat-free and low-fat milk and yogurt and skim-processed cheese.

Should dairy farmers be investing in youth wellness? That feels like a good idea. But when there are so many questions about how ‘well’ kids are permitted to eat at school, one has to wonder where this is all going.

In terms of truly promoting dairy, this all has the feel of a hope-to-catch, hail-Mary-pass that is destined to be intercepted vs. a game plan that earns a win for the home-team that sits at 4th and 40 with 4 seconds on the clock — backed up to their own endzone.

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My view: Money spent, points missed.

By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Feb. 8, 2019

Even the video spots created by DMI for this year’s social media lead-up to the 53rd Super Bowl were long on NFL branding and short on dairy messaging. After all, America’s dairy farmers have this relationship with the National Football League (NFL) via GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60), why not advertise it, right?

But DMI’s “Dairy Rules” videos leave the viewer wondering what the point is.

The “Dairy Rules” content series represents a $100,000 media buy, alone, with production costs on top, according to Edelman, the agency doing creative and public relations work for DMI over the past 20-plus years. They say the two videos prepared for play on social media sites Feb. 1-4, “apply football rules in the context of dairy products to humorous effect.”

Honestly, I found them to be more annoying than humorous, maybe I didn’t get the point?

DMI sources say the “dairy replay booth” videos were viewed 6 million times on social media platforms. You can view them for yourself here and here .

(The number of views logged at these YouTube links as of February 4 is more like 200 and 500. And the embedded Facebook version showed 6,200 views. The Twitter platform counts were around 600 each.)

While the tagline is a good one: “Real Dairy is always the right call,” the substance of the skits is rapid-fire, dairy-name-dropping clothed in football jargon.

Except for this brief 1-second and chaotic glimpse at the “dairy replay” screens, the viewer is in the dark over why “Real Dairy is always the right call.”

In fact, “Grace under pressure,” the female referee in the first 30-second “dairy replay booth” video, reviews dairy-use fouls. Speaking rapidly and displaying a large 1% emblem on the back of her hybrid cow-print/referee-striped shirt, she points to screens the viewer can’t see saying: “That’s mom delaying ice cream night to answer a text. That’s parfait interference, too much fruit in the yogurt. That’s conduct unbecoming of an ice cream sandwich, inappropriate use of fondue forks, a butter block below the waffles… asiago more than 5 seconds on the floor and incomplete use of milk in the chicken tetrazini.”

From the front we see the “Undeniably Dairy” logo on her shirt. Cute. Funny, sort of. But what’s the message? 

The viewer is all set up for “Real Dairy is always the right call,” but no real substance emerges to sink their teeth into, even if the average person could understand half of the jargon.

The second video with a male referee takes the same approach. “All day, every day, dairy infractions are being committed. We’re here at the dairy replay booth to make the final call,” he says as the dramatic NFL-style intermission music plays.

He peruses a wall of screens. “The call is roughing the queso,” he nods, followed by a few more phrases that are hard to decipher — something about a ruling on the fontino? That’s a type of cheese.

And then, a perhaps redeeming line: “Okay Seattle, Dad’s drinking straight from the chocolate milk container, making it ineligible… again.”

Okay, that one at least creates a word picture of Dad swigging chocolate milk straight from the jug instead of taking time to pour a glass – because it’s that good. 

Disjointed and hard to follow, there’s plenty of NFL branding in these videos, and the creators for DMI made sure to display the 1% and 2% subliminal low-fat messages on uniforms and props.

But apart from a glimpse of the replay refs tapping the water cooler (containing milk instead of water with bright red lettering of 2%), there’s just no dairy visible in these Undeniably Dairy, Dairy Good spots.

GENYOUth finances raise eyebrows

By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, Feb. 1, 2019

BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — Looking over the past nine years since GENYOUth was licensed in 2010 as a non-profit under the official name “Youth Improved Incorporated,” the annual Gala event is just one small piece of the larger pie. The Gala has been held for three consecutive years: 2016, 2017 and 2018, ostensibly to raise funds for GENYOUth and its flagship program: Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60).

In fact, since GENYOUth has not been widely publicized until last year, many people believe it began in 2016 and that the Gala is its primary source of funding. Not so.

According to guidestar.org, Youth Improved Incorporated (aka GENYOUth) was started in 2010 and the IRS 990 forms available for 2014-16 show its budget goes well beyond the fundraising of the Gala, with DMI as the primary source of unrestricted funds primarily for administration. Many other donations are restricted or earmarked for specific things.

It’s mission, according to the Guidestar profile is one of empowerment to position youth as “change-agents” in their communities. (In fact a recent GENYOUth project underway is a youth sleep study).

Here is the mission as published in the profile: “GENYOUth nurtures healthy, high-achieving school communities by: Activating programs that create healthy, active students and schools, empowering youth as change-agents in their local communities, engaging a network of private and public partners that share our goal to create a healthy, successful future for students, schools and communities nationwide.”

While it’s true that the November 2018 Gala in New York City raised $1.4 million for GENYOUth, according to DMI staff responses to inquiries, the entire GENYOUth budget has far exceeded this at $8.1 million in 2014, $7.8 million in 2015 and $10.4 million in 2016, according to the IRS 990 forms for those years – the only ones available at this time. (Forms have been submitted requesting 990s from 2010 through 2013, and the 2017 990 won’t be released until March 2019 while 2018’s 990 won’t be available until March 2020.)

Of these $7.8 to $10.4 million budgets, roughly half was spent in the form of grants and contributions to schools and half on administration.

Looking at just the most recent 990 available for 2016, nearly half a million dollars was spent on travel, conferences and meetings, $4.5 million total administration, including over $2 million in ‘professional fees,’ nearly $1 million on salaries, $259,961 in office rent or occupancy, another $202,095 in ‘other expenses,’ and less than $90,000 on printing and publications (aka materials).

GENYOUth carried in 2016 total assets and fund balances of $8 million at the end of the year.

Of the $10.4 million in contributions, less than $1 million came from the NFL ($813,112) with the NFL Players Inc. kicking in $25,000 and two teams contributing $5000 each. Quaker Foods (owned by PepsiCo) kicked in $12,500 that year. Nike contributed over $400,000. Domino’s contributed nearly $700,000, Land O’Lakes contributed nearly $600,000, Microsoft (Bill Gates) kicked in $100,000, fairlife $100,000, Dannon $100,000, and Leprino $20,000.  

A whopping $4.2 million came from checkoff organizations, making mandatory dairy farmer checkoff funds the single largest source of funding in 2016, as follows: 

DMI accounted for $1.527 million and Midwest Dairy Association accounted for $1.203 million. 

The balance of the $4.2 million in dairy checkoff funds came from ADA Northeast $30,162, ADA Indiana $81,822, ADA Mideast $38,952, California Milk Advisory Board $29,800, Dairy Council of AZ $164,210, Dairy Max $18,750, Florida Dairy Farmers $150,000, Idaho Dairy Products Commission $175,000, Maine Dairy Promotion Board $10,000, Midatlantic Dairy Association $43,772, Midwest Dairy Association $1,203,000, National Dairy Council $15,000, New England, Dairy Promotion board $100,000, Oregon Dairy Products Commission $117,818, UDIA of Michigan $147,825, Washington State Dairy Products Commission $210,000, and Western Dairy Association $59,139

Interestingly, PepsiCo did not even appear in the 2016 contributions, but contributed just $12,500 through Quaker Foods in 2016. In both 2014 and 2015, the combined contribution by PepsiCo and its subsidiary Quaker Foods was $450,000 and $430,000, respectively.

While dairy farmer checkoff organizations were by far the largest GENYOUth contributor, funding nearly half of GENYOUth’s budget in all three available 990 years, the roughly $4 million annually for each of those three years represents 1% of the total annual checkoff funds paid by dairy farmers annually.

It is unclear how many other moving parts to the program are funded in other areas of national and regional checkoff budgets apart from these direct contributions.

GENYOUth’s main program, FUTP60, is described as the dairy farmers’ in-school youth wellness program that is reported to be in 73,000 schools affecting 38 million students, its actual promotion of milk and dairy products has been limited to the deeper layers of online toolkits that accompany several of the available ‘plays’ a school can choose to implement to earn grants for physical education or cafeteria equipment, such as smoothie makers, coolers for milk and the separate implementation of mobile school breakfast carts.

In addition, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) all parties signed with USDA in 2010-11 prevents the program’s partners from using FUTP60 to advertise.

When a school picks one ‘healthy eating play’ and one ‘physical activity play’ from the list of choices in the FUTP60 ‘playbook,’ a school can qualify for up to $4000 in grants annually to ‘kickstart healthy changes.’

When the National Football League (NFL), PepsiCo and others who partner in FUTP60 are involved, their brands have immediate recognition. They don’t need to say a word to get advertising value.

For example, the NFL brand is obvious in many of the ‘plays’ that even use its name, such as NFL FLAG-in-Schools – Get in the Game!” This has advertising brand value.

Another example, when PepsiCo is presented with a GENYOUth award and the CEO uses that platform to talk about PepsiCo’s plant-based health foods and beverages coming on the market – some directly competing as dairy alternatives — that has advertising value for PepsiCo.

Where is the advertising value for dairy farmers? What brand do the underwriting dairy farmers showcase for their participation? Any photo of milk is strategically positioned so the brand cannot be seen, unless it’s fairlife. And dairy farmers get five simple words that are sometimes included and sometimes omitted from GENYOUth and FUTP60 materials: ‘including fat-free and low-fat dairy.’

Of the dozens of ‘plays’ in the FUTP60 playbook that schools can choose to implement, most have toolkits that focus on empowering students to consider “sustainability” and nutrition of the snacks they choose. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are emphasized. Discussions about milk and dairy are found in the deeper layers of these toolkits but are not part of direct action implemented in the ‘play.’

When ‘plays’ are implemented and a grant is awarded for equipment, an school assembly is often held, and in some of those cases, dairy could be highlighted if the equipment is a smoothie maker using yogurt, for example.

In fact, any number of these ‘plays’ are positive for young people, but the dietary emphasis of the healthy eating ‘plays’ is on whole grains, fruits and vegetables with “including fat-free and low-fat dairy” as the five little words educating future consumers. No mandatory checkoff funds are coming into GENYOUth from these other commodities.

As for the mobile breakfast carts funded through GENYOUth, they offer an opportunity to sell more milk, yogurt and cheese as breakfast options students can choose from. Checkoff staff point to these sales opportunities as the benefit that trickles down for the dairy farmer’s investment.

Still, the offerings remain fat-free and low-fat, and the interactions with these 73,000 schools are cumulative – not ongoing. Once a play is implemented and an assembly is held and a grant is given and equipment is purchased, a few posters may show up in the lunchroom, but school staff confide months or years later they tend not to even realize they are FUTP60 participants.

Life goes on. Lunch goes on. Breakfast goes on. There is no real tracking of the results in terms of whether the 38 million school children ‘touched’ by the program cumulatively since its inception in 2010 are drinking their milk or eating their cheese and yogurt.

Meanwhile, the dairy education and promotion aspect is limited to fat-free and low-fat milk, nonfat yogurt, and skim-processed cheese as dairy farmers are cobbled to USDA by both the Dietary Guidelines and the GENYOUth memorandum of understanding.

In effect, mandatory dairy producer funds are toting the government’s dietary and sustainability message instead of being free to boldly put dairy’s best and most nutritious foot forward with whole milk, real butter and full-fat natural cheese for growing young bodies and minds to be empowered. 

Given that the dairy farmer checkoff organizations have been primary funders of GENYOUth since its inception to the tune of around $4 million a year (times 8 = approximately $32 mil cumulative) — and given the fact that PepsiCo seems to have missed at least one year out of the three years for which records are available, having given just $1 million over three years, cumulatively — maybe the “Everyday Superheroes” theme of the November 2018 GENYOUth Gala in New York City should have taken a different route.

Perhaps the Vanguard Award should have been presented in gratitude to The American Dairy Farmer instead of PepsiCo. 

Then, instead of hearing the PepsiCo CEO talk about the ‘oat milk’ their Quaker Foods is launching, the Gala attendees could have viewed a professional video of America’s dairy farmers… working every day through weather and markets to care for the cows and the land, and the nutritious benefits of real milk for each one of us.

Now that would have been impressive for all of those corporation CEOs and world “thought leaders” in attendance to have seen.

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