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Delays, diversions and disregard for specific questions keep the investigation rolling.
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, March 1, 2019
BROWNSTOWN, Pa.– The public record is clear on Dairy Checkoff alliances of the past decade through GENYOUth, and the financial side of the picture is coming into even sharper focus.
Meanwhile, important questions were only partially answered last week while other questions were outright ignored.
This is especially true about the questions concerning the firm doing public relations and marketing for DMI over the past 20 years.
Instead of answering those questions, we saw diversions. We saw DMI chairperson Marilyn Hershey, in her letter on page 17 of Farmshine last week (and at the end of the article at this link, here), give Dairy Checkoff the credit for changing the conversation on milk fat! Hard to believe!
While it is true that Dairy Checkoff has moved a bit in that direction since 2014, the change in the conversation can be attributed to independent science writer Nina Teicholz and her 10 years of exhaustive investigation that led to her book The Big Fat Surprise, which led to the interest of Time magazine on this topic.
As for our unanswered questions? We are still waiting.
Last week, we referenced some of the questions that had been sent to DMI three weeks ago. One being the MOU between USDA, Dairy Checkoff and NFL.
In previous installments of this series, we had mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by USDA and other government agencies, along with GENYOUth, National Dairy Council (NDC / DMI) and National Football League (NFL), and we included a photo of the original 2011 signing found on a Flickr photo stream link at a USDA blog post that year.
There had been no press release about this development at the time. But that’s water under the bridge.
After examining the public record, we reached out to DMI via chairperson Marilyn Hershey, and her letter, of course, was published on page 17 in the Feb 22 edition of Farmshine and at the end of the report at this link. Instead of answering each of our questions, she chose the option of writing a letter for publication, unedited, in Farmshine.
Most of the questions, however, remain unanswered. While there are vague glimpses here and there of something to hang a hat on, it is the outright silence on some questions that is so telling.
First and foremost, we have not received the requested full copy of the MOU. Our request to DMI was ignored. Our request to USDA has been referred to Public Affairs. And we wait.
Hershey maintained in an email response that the MOU is nonbinding and has nothing to do with how milk is promoted in school. In her letter, she said,“MilkPEP and DMI programs are limited to promoting school milk as governed by the Dietary Guidelines set by USDA.”
As mentioned last week, there is nothing in the Checkoff Order that requires this, just a progression in that direction over the past 10 years, and no sign of the MOU that was in development 10 years ago and officially signed eight years ago.
Another question we asked was: “What role did Edelman (the longtime public relations firm for DMI) play in the creation of GENYOUth as some public articles say Richard Edelman, on the GENYOUth board played a significant role?
This question was completely ignored in both the DMI letter published last week and in any other correspondence with Hershey or DMI staff. It was not even acknowledged. When pressed, it was ignored further.
We also asked: “What role does Edelman continue to play and are you at all concerned that Edelman and other aligned partners in GENYOUth are aligned with the EAT Forum, specifically the FReSH initiative which seeks to accelerate global transformation of the food system to plant-based diets for “healthy people and a healthy planet”?
This question was also completely ignored in both the DMI letter published last week and in any other correspondence with Hershey or DMI staff. It was not acknowledged.
Meanwhile, after these articles were published, the information has come under heavy criticism by DMI staff and board members in discussions with questioning farmers on the private facebook page where farmers can join to ask checkoff-related questions and DMI staff and board members engage in conversation.
There, farmers who ask are told on the one hand that Edelman is “not involved” in the EAT Lancet Commission or EAT FReSH initiative, and on the other hand that it’s “good to have representation on the inside”.
But again, no public statement or answers to these questions are forthcoming. This seems odd given that DMI is funded by dairy farmers through an Act of Congress and the questions are being asked by a dairy farming publication.
When asked if a particular statement made by DMI staff on the private Checkoff facebook page is considered an official public statement answering a question for which we have not yet received an answer, the staff reply by email was that these statements are only for the private facebook participants, not official public statements.
To this point, we have information from the public record, questions for which we have received indirect answers, at best. Many questions that have been completely ignored. And we have a letter of response that contains plenty of diversions.
I find it puzzling that Hershey attempts to position DMI in the letter as the champion of changing the conversation on milk fat, that checkoff would be credited with the Time magazine “Eat Butter” cover in 2014, when that was through the independent work of science writer Nina Teicholz!
I find it puzzling that I was promised a long list of all the whole milk and full-fat dairy research DMI has done for years to change the conversation, but I am still waiting for that list.
These are more diversions. Look over here, not over there.
We’ll look at some of the other unanswered questions next week and see if we can press for more information about the Edelman PR firm regarding the EAT FReSH initiative.
As the public record is clear on some of the Dairy Checkoff alliances of the past decade, and as the financial side of the GENYOUth connection comes into sharper focus with additional documentation that is surfacing, and as specific important questions about the Edelman firm doing public relations and marketing for DMI over the past 20 years are ignored, it’s obvious to me that the digging needs to go further.
Creation of GENYOUth in 2010 brought Dairy Checkoff and USDA into closer alignment
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, February 22, 2019
BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — Examining the public record over the past six weeks, we find no specific language in the Dairy Research and Promotion Order requiring commodity checkoff organizations to promote USDA Dietary Guidelines. Legal and other challenges may have fostered this association as the federal government’s defense of mandatory checkoff programs in the 2006 time frame offered protection as “government speech.”
A slippery slope, but the shoe fit as Congress authorized these programs in 1983, and USDA oversees them, appoints the boards that manage them and enforces the assessments paid by producers to fund them.
With the government declaring checkoff advertising to be “government speech” as a defense to challenges, producers cannot claim they are forced to support private or commercial speech with which they disagree. Instead, they are said to be supporting “government speech,” which is protected from such challenges, according to a scholarly articles published by Parke Wilde, a Cornell-educated professor of nutrition science and policy at the Friedman School at Tufts University.
Wilde is the author of several editions of “Food Policy in the United States.” His 2010-12 article, entitled Federal Communication about Obesity in the Dietary Guidelines and Checkoff Programs explored this relationship, with special focus on dairy and meat checkoff programs. In fact, he wrote in 2018 about diet as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions late in 2018 previewing the EAT Lancet Commission’s report released officially in January 2019.
While Congress has never acted to require checkoff promotion within the boundaries of USDA Dietary Guidelines, the path to align the two was chosen by dairy checkoff in 2010 to protect it from external and internal challenges.
Dairy collects, by far, the largest pot of money among all checkoffs – approximately $350 million annually. Much of this money over the past 10 years has been spent through various partnerships in pre-competitive environments to potentially drive category demand, particularly for cheese.
The creation of GENYOUth in 2010 brought Dairy Checkoff and USDA into closer alignment.
Unanswered questions remain. On February 11, specific questions and document requests were sent by email to Marilyn Hershey. A Chester County, Pennsylvania dairy producer with her husband Duane, she has served on the DMI board for almost seven years and has been chairperson for almost two years.
We asked specific questions about GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) and other aspects of DMI alliances, including a request for information about the role of Edelman in the founding of GENYOUth. As mentioned last week, Edelman is the world’s largest marketing, communications and public relations (PR) firm, and they have done social marketing and communication strategies for DMI for 20 years, including the 2017 creation of the Undeniably Dairy social ‘trust’ campaign.
We also asked if DMI had knowledge or concern about Edelman’s simultaneous involvement as social marketing and communications strategist for the EAT Lancet Commission, EAT Forum, and in particular the EAT FReSH Initiative — funded by 41 corporations, many of them Edelman clients.
We asked what specific entities received the more than $2 million paid annually in 2014-17 for “professional services” from the GENYOUth fund, which is by DMI’s own 2016-17 audit, described as being primarily funded by DMI “as the primary source of unrestricted funds for administration and operations” to the tune of more than $2.5 million annually.
We asked why the audit shows those numbers funding GENYOUth, which are much larger amounts than the $1.5 million listed annually as DMI contributions on the GENYOUth 990 forms filed with the IRS.
We asked for a full copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by National Dairy Council, USDA and the NFL in 2011 after the agreement for GENYOUth was solidified in 2010.
We asked for specific dairy sales tracking data from FUTP60 schools before and after receiving a grant for implementation, since we have learned from current and former board members and staff of DMI that this information is available and in fact part of the grant process.
We asked for comments about the benefits of GENYOUth programs to dairy farmers, such as what has been mentioned in the articles already in terms of breakfast carts containing dairy offerings, asking for specific information about recorded dairy sales via the breakfast carts.
And we asked for comments about the GENYOUth alliances being formed, and how they are beneficial for the dairy farmers funding the checkoff, which remains the foundation’s primary sponsor for operations – given the example of PepsiCo’s specific goals to be a leader in plant-based diet transformation through the incubator and ‘oat milk’ the company CEO touted when receiving the Vanguard Award at the 2018 GENYOUth Gala.
These questions were presented, and two options were offered — answering the questions point-by-point or providing a letter of response.
Marilyn Hershey chose the latter, providing Farmshine with a letter of response on Feb. 18, which was published on page 17 of the Feb. 22 edition (see it included at the end of this report).
As an editor’s note, the DMI letter of response by Hershey highlights the June 23, 2014 Time Magazine “Eat Butter” cover story, by Brian Walsh, as a checkoff accomplishment that changed the conversation on fat. However, Walsh in fact wrote the revealing cover story one month after his May 14, 2014 review of The Big Fat Surprise, by Nina Teicholz, which made the New York Times Best Sellers List at that time.
Walsh had reviewed her book before his “Eat Butter” story, stating: “It’s nutrition dogma: saturated fat is bad for you. But a new book makes the case that our obsession with low-fat diets has made us, and he went on to tell of the “6 facts about saturated fat that will astound you” as revealed in Teicholz’s book.
In fact, the checkoff-funded full fat dairy research mentioned by Hershey in her DMI response is said to be within the past five years, which would be since the publication of Teicholz’s book, which lays out the 10 years of investigation Teicholz conducted as an independent investigative science journalist, beginning in 2004. She accepted no industry funds for this work.
Walsh in his Time cover story retraced the steps of Teicholz’s book, leading with: “The taste of my childhood was the taste of skim milk. We spread bright yellow margarine on dinner rolls, ate low-fat microwave oatmeal flavored with apples and cinnamon, put nonfat ranch on our salads. We were only doing what we were told” (And what we are still told).
He then retraced the history Teicholz laid out in her book, beginning at the point in the book where a Senate committee, led by George McGovern in 1977, codified the Dietary Guidelines by 1980.
And, like today with the EAT Lancet Forum unfolding before our eyes, the food industry jumped in step – overnight — filling shelves with lowfat offerings and effectively replacing fat with sugar and carbs.
“… beef disappeared from the dinner plate, eggs were replaced … and whole milk almost wholly vanished,” Walsh wrote in the 2014 Time article patterned from the work of Teicholz he had reviewed a month earlier. “We had embarked on a vast nutrition experiment… Nearly four decades later, the results are in: The experiment was a failure.”
We will leave it to readers to determine whether the letter of response (below the chart) answers these questions.
DMI chair Marilyn Hershey responds
I am thankful that Farmshine gave me the opportunity to comment on the series of recent articles that have been published about the work of the checkoff.
Let me introduce myself, I’m Marilyn Hershey, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Pennsylvania and have been Chairman of Dairy Management Inc., for a little more than a year.
As a dairy farmer, like all of you, I’m experiencing the same economic difficulties and challenges. I invest in the checkoff just like every dairy farmer in the U.S. does. And just like everyone else I expect a solid return on my investment. Like you, I too want to ensure that my checkoff investment is used effectively to increase sales and trust. So does every member of both the DMI Board and the State and Regional Promotion Boards.
My fellow board members and I take great care in knowing and watching how every penny is spent by the checkoff to improve sales and trust on behalf of all dairy farmers. And we take program measurement and accountability seriously.
I have recently read Farmshine articles where GENYOUth and other checkoff related matters are discussed. Many of the statements and conclusions are out of context.
As a dairy farmer, I am extremely proud of the programming that has been put into place to help raise healthy and high-achieving youth for decades. While my aim is not to provide a counter to each point, I do want to share a few key facts about the achievements we’ve made through farmers’ investments in dairy promotion and youth wellness.
First, the fact is, dairy processors’ milk promotion board MilkPEP and DMI programs are limited to promoting school milk as governed by the Dietary Guidelines set by USDA. But we have had a laser focus on bringing full fat milk, and its benefits, back to the diet.
As you are aware, the benefits of milk fat are finally being recognized in the public health community as essential in the diet. Why? The checkoff. The checkoff research on the value of dairy fat was an important foundation for the health professional community to rethink the role of dairy fat in the diet, ultimately leading to the Time Magazine cover headline, “Eat Butter.”
This change in thinking, plus the powerful voices of leaders like Nina Teicholz, are why full-fat dairy products such as whole milk are enjoying a resurgence with consumers. For more on farmer-funded NDC research over the last five years, people can visit http://researchsubmission.nationaldairycouncil.org.
Given all that has been accomplished in this arena, we are hopeful that the next round of Dietary Guidelines will include whole milk. I am also hopeful that the new Dietary Guidelines Committee will include voices around the table that support and stand behind whole milk.
Second, GENYOUth, just like the Gala it hosts, brings a net return of other organizations’ resources and money well above any farmer expenditure.
Through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, the money coming from other companies has been used to fund school breakfasts and breakfast carts, which always include milk along with rotating options like yogurt, whole grain granola bars, string cheese, oatmeal, and fruit. The resources have also helped translate Fuel Up to Play 60 into Spanish for the increasing number of Hispanic students in America’s schools.
Through our efforts, we have increased millions of school breakfast meals each year consumed by kids, all of which include servings of milk and possibly yogurt and cheese. As a farmer, I’m very proud of this achievement.
As we look at our American Dairy Association North East specifically, we served 104,226 additional breakfasts in 2018. The new dairy occasions were over and above 2017’s numbers. Dairy is optimized in the breakfasts. We calculate that three-quarters of the kids choose milk as their drink of choice in this breakfast opportunity.
Another recent example of unlocking GENYOUth’s network in partnership with the local promotion group includes securing funds from five new benefactors leading up to Super Bowl 53 — Georgia Power, Delta, The Home Depot, Arby’s Foundation and WellCare. These companies contributed $400,000 to get 53 breakfast carts into Atlanta schools, increasing access to 5.3 million breakfasts over the course of a school year.
Being a part of GENYOUth, gives us the ability to work with other companies and health professional organizations to extend the message of dairy’s role in the diet. It also gives us the ability to educate others on the exceptional things dairy farmers do on their farm and in their communities.
What’s more, when we need coalition partners to address things like plant-based diets, attacks on dairy farmer practices and/or on animal agriculture in general, we benefit by having partners who speak on our behalf. For example, Domino’s, who sits on the GENYOUth board and funds GENYOUth, has been a strong proponent for dairy farmers. Domino’s has donated $1 million to the future of farming through FFA.
It’s unrealistic to expect to combat animal agriculture detractors without allied partners in health and wellness, environment and agriculture across a wide range of industries. This is a fact.
Since the articles have been published, I am not going to address each point. However, I contribute posts to a checkoff blog at www.dairy.org/blog where I will include more information about GENYOUth and youth wellness programming, as well as keep you informed of other activities the checkoff is implementing locally, nationally and internationally on dairy farmers behalf. Thank you for listening.
Decade of ‘players’ and ‘playbooks’ drive youth toward global food transformation endzone
By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, February 15, 2019
BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — Edelman, a communications marketing and public relations company, which has been called the world’s largest global public relations firm, figures prominently as a herd-dog bringing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and corporations together in the launch of the EAT Lancet forum last month.
Edelman also figures prominently in its similar work for DMI and GENYOUth. Richard Edelman, CEO and president of the company, sits on the board ofGENYOUth. According to a 2011 MarketWatch article, Edelman was instrumental in recruiting Alexis Glick to be CEO of GENYOUth.
He and his company have had a working relationship with DMI for 20 years, according to Edelman. The company most recently crafted and launched DMI’s Undeniably Dairy campaign.
None of this is, by itself, alarming, until peeling back the layers to see that Edelman is the core asset for the EAT FReSH launch as part of its move toward working with clients to build social values into business communication goals. The company is known for its annual Edelman Trust Barometer that monitors and interprets societal shifts.
So, what is EAT Lancet and what is EAT FReSH?
Dairy producers who attended the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit recently in Lancaster may have heard Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a climate and air quality expert from the University of California, Davis, talk about climate change and how cows are the solution, not the problem. (click here to read about that)
Dr. Mitloehner talked about how he found the flaws that led to retractions in the 2012 United Nations FAO report on Livestock’s Long Shadow. His discovery led to a substantial change in the report’s original assessment that animal agriculture accounted for 18% of green house gas (GHG) emissions, when the real number “corrected by the authors” is 3.9%.
The EAT Lancet Commission’s report released in January recycles portions of the old and discredited ‘longshadow’ report — and its flawed process — with a new approach to drive global eating patterns toward vegan goals for what it deems to be the pathway to healthy people and a healthy planet.
Mitloehner was confident last week that this EAT Lancet report is full of inaccuracies where milk and meat production are concerned. He outlined them methodically.
So what’s the connection of all of this to checkoff? In a word: Edelman.
In a May 2018 blog post at the company website, CEO and president Richard Edelman wrote about the company’s involvement in the EAT Lancet Commission. He wrote about the EAT FReSH initiative initially involving 25 food and agriculture supply-chain companies, which has since grown to 41. Some of the logos on the accompanying graphic reveal further cross-over alliances with GENYOUth
PepsiCo is one example. (And PepsiCo — recently honored by GENYOUth for buying 100 school breakfast carts at a reported cost of $7000 each – has detailed on its website its health and sustainability goals to be focused on plant-based diet leadership, which they’ve pursued this year with the launch of Quaker Oat beverage, a milk alternative, and with their nutrition “greenhouse” incubator program working with startup companies on non-dairy cheese and non-dairy yogurt).
Another cross-over alliance is Corteva Agriscience / DuPont / Dow as Dupont is part of the corporate EAT FReSH alliance and Corteva now has representation on the GENYOUth board via Krysta Harden, who served as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under Secretary Vilsack.
Back to the EAT Lancet report and the EAT FReSH Initiative (see eatforum.org), Edelman writes in May 2018 – eight months before the EAT launch: “Food Reform for Sustainability and Health (FReSH) was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the EAT Foundation (EAT). The alliance of 41 global food and agricultural companies aims to create new pathways to reach healthy, enjoyable diets for all, produced responsibly within planetary boundaries.”
Richard Edelman continues in his blog post, stating: “Edelman has partnered with (EAT) FReSH to help accelerate transformational change in global food systems.”
These two paragraphs, alone, signal what has occurred since January 2019 in the form of internal media launches, even though the first EAT Forum in the U.S., held at the United Nations last week, had a small media presence on site to “cover” it. In fact, dairy farmers and leaders listening to Dr. Mitloehner at the Pa. Dairy Summit last week breathed a collective sigh of relief because there had been little media coverage of the EAT Forum at the UN on the day before.
Instead, the PR campaign is in full swing. Videos about what the world would be like if it all went vegan were released a few weeks prior by the internationally-renowend magazine, The Economist.
Stories picking up portions of the report signaling animal agriculture in various separate ways as threatening the planet’s ecosystem have been circulating and published in media such as The Guardian.
Democrats, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, launched the Green New Deal resolution for which the original “FAQ” included a statement about “eliminating farting cows” and transforming the food system.
A high-profile interview with 2020 presidential hopeful Rep. Cory Booker, a vegan, this week quoted his thoughts. Here’s a sample: “The tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially-produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact.”
These are but a few examples of the insidious PR campaign that has erupted from all angles in the span of a few weeks on the one hand while the actual media coverage of the details of the EAT Lancet Report, itself, have been ‘light.’
Back to Edelman’s May 2018 blog, where he talks about Lara Luten, who is the account director for Edelman, Amsterdam. In that blog post prior to the EAT launch, Edelman wrote that Luten “will be helping the (EAT FReSH) partnership build communications and marketing plans in preparation for the Stockholm Food Forum and the upcoming (EAT) Lancet Commission Report.”
This EAT deal has a marketing plan underway. Meanwhile, the science behind it needs to be tried in the press with transparency on its significant shortcomings. A marketing campaign is guiding the public discussion instead.
The EAT Lancet Report calls for drastic reductions in dairy and meat consumption, globally. It mentions a carbon tax on foods derived from cattle. It positions a more vegan diet as the only way to feed 10 billion people seeking to transform the food supply to exist “within planetary boundaries” by 2030 – all based on science that is far from being settled on a dietary or planetary level — while completely overlooking science showing cows to be the solution, not the problem.
Going back to Edelman’s May 2018 blog post again for a moment, he describes his company’s work in the EAT launch as “working in a pre-competitive environment on a project that is driving impact by leading change.”
This same sort of pre-competitive environment has been used by DMI in the formation of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy eight to 10 years ago, which works on new products for checkoff grant funding as well as establishing sustainability and stewardship parameters for dairy farms to follow that are then incorporated at program-and-enforcement-levels by milk buyers and cooperatives down through the supply-chain to the farms that fund the checkoff.
What’s all this got to do with GENYOUth and helping kids be healthier in school?
GENYOUth has emerged as an alliance of corporations, government, NGOs and other ‘thought leaders’ on various areas of youth as change agents.
Here, too, Edelman is the prime mover on public relations that one can argue has morphed into NGO social-engineering.
GENYOUth describes its view of youth as “change agents”. Throughout its program layers, youth are educated and ‘herded’ toward the plant-based, low-fat, global-sustainability platforms that form the foundation for the very food-system transformation that the EAT Lancet Commission advocated in its report.
The wheels for this global agenda were set in motion 30 years ago by progressively more restrictive iterations of USDA Dietary Guidelines. Over the past 10 years, the progress toward this end was hastened under the Obama/Vilsack administration, in part through an alliance with Dairy Checkoff and others to educate and feed America’s youth along the lines of these transformational food choices – in the name of fighting obesity — even as obesity and diabetes levels worsened among America’s youth.
In the name of fighting obesity and diabetes, the Clinton Foundation has also been actively involved for at least 10 years, according to former President Bill Clinton’s remarks during his YouTube-televised speech at the 2017 GENYOUth Gala, where Clinton, a vegan, presented the Vanguard Award that year to his friend, former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Web-based FUTP60’s branding is long on NFL, short on dairy, while funding is long on dairy, short on NFL
BySherry 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: They call it “the dairy farmers’ youth wellness program” because it has been depicted as the brainchild of the National Dairy Council… But GENYOUth — including its flagship Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) — is thin on milk and threatens to steal even more demand as future milk drinkers are steered away from nutritious whole milk products. Meanwhile, the anti-animal and environmental NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) have been infiltrating new billionaire “sustainability” alliances poised to profit on the main course, while dairy farmers bow-down in hopes of crumbs. This is Part One of an investigative multi-part series.
Depicted above is the illustration used to promote and glorify the 2018 GENYOUth Gala that was held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on Nov. 27. The “superheroes” sponsors are listed further down on the 2018 GENYOUth Gala website. PepsiCo was the “hero” sponsor at $150,000. Champion sponsors of $100,000 each were UnitedHealthcare, Corteva Agriscience, Inmar and fairlife. So-called “defender” sponsors included Domino’s, Ecolab, Jamba Juice, Land O’Lakes, NFLPA, SAP, Leprino Foods, Schreiber, Ameritrade, RBC Capital Markets and Omnicom Group, each of which gave $50,000.
By Sherry Bunting, from Farmshine, Friday, January 11, 2019
BROWNSTOWN, Pa. — How serious is the National Dairy Board about improving fluid milk sales? We see some renewed emphasis on this lately, but our most important sales — those to children in school — threaten to steal even more demand from the future as we lose future milk drinkers with the forced service of only fat-free and 1% low-fat milk in the school lunch and breakfast programs.
Recent studies show that children and teenagers in the poorest demographic of the U.S. population are leading the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. One study by University of Michigan Health System, for example, revealed that for every 1% increase in low-income status among school districts, there as a 1.17% increase in rates of overweight/obese students. Researchers used data collected from mandated screenings that began in Massachusetts schools in 2011, and the percentage of overweight/obese students was compared with the percentage of students in each district eligible for free and reduced school lunch, transitional aid or food stamps (SNAP).
The meals these students receive at school are their best two options for nutrition and satiety all day. There are few restrictions for cheap, high-carb, high-fructose-corn-syrup foods and beverages that can be purchased with SNAP cards, so what will they find at the end of the day for their hunger at home? Soda pop and Dollar Store snacks.
What role is the National Dairy Council and its GENYOUth program playing?
The GENYOUth collaboration is aimed at making “a lasting difference in the lives of children.” That sounds great, but what have been both the intended and unintended lasting consequences?
Certainly, there is a long list of dairy research projects funded by the NDC. That’s a good thing.
But where the rubber meets the road, GENYOUth and its flagship program Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) are aimed at promoting a “healthy lifestyle” that focuses on 60 minutes of physical activity daily and consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein “including low-fat and fat-free dairy.”
For nearly 10 years, the dairy checkoff has parroted the Dietary Guidelines on dairy service to children (and adults) when it comes to institutional feeding — the largest category of the food economy and the place where seeds are planted for lifelong choices based on nutrition education and flavor.
Let’s look at how GENYOUth was launched in 2010.
At the Nov. 27, 2018 gala in New York City, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that GENYOUth was the concept of Dairy Management Inc (DMI) CEO Tom Gallagher. Gallagher today serves as chairman of the GENYOUth board.
In a YouTube video of Goodell’s remarks — before handing the coveted 2018 Vanguard Award to PepsiCo CEO Albert Carey — Goodell stated that Gallagher came to him with the idea for GENYOUth 10 years ago, which was then “founded” in 2010 as a partnership between the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL).
In fact, in its 2014 Progress Report, GENYOUth’s beginning is described as making “cultural shifts” in school nutrition and exercise, stating further that, “Through signing a six-way Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Dairy Council, the National Football League, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services, we have created a productive synergy that has made the sky the limit for GENYOUth.”
According to a report at its website, genyouthnow.org, the foundation seeks to “convene leaders in a movement to empower America’s youth to create a healthier future.”
But let’s go back to the second gala on Dec. 7, 2017 aboard the Intrepid in New York City. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack — who now serves as CEO of dairy checkoff-funded U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) — was presented with the Vanguard Award that year.
The GENYOUth website cited “Vilsack’s accomplishments for dairy farmers” under President Obama — for having “legislated to improve the health of America’s kids.”
More specifically, the Vilsack accolades stated that he partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama on her “Let’s Move!” initiative — “alongside GENYOUth to improve the health of America’s children.”
These words show the partnership the NDC / DMI has had with the Obama / Vilsack administration on shared goals of promoting exercise and low-fat / high carb diets for children and youth.
According to the former GENYOUth foundation website before it was revamped to genyouthnow.org, the Vanguard Award presentation to Vilsack was described in January 2018 as follows:
“Sec. Vilsack helped pass and implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to help combat child hunger and obesity by making the most significant improvements to U.S. school meals in 30 years.”
What was included in these “significant improvements” in 2010?
For starters, America’s schools were forced to offer only fat-free flavored milk and only 1% or fat-free white milk, while the screws were tightened on the requirement that less than 10% of a school meal’s calories could come from saturated fat and by reducing the total number of calories in a meal served to children at school, while at the same time putting both program and promotion emphasis on plant-based meals containing scant lean protein.
This means that not only are dairy producers prohibited from putting their best and most nutritious foot forward with future milk drinkers at school, the schools are forced to serve butter substitutes and imitation cheese or cheeses that are diluted with starch to decrease the amount of calories the students receive from fat).
During the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit in February 2018, keynote speaker Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise — without realizing the significance of her statement — put these USDA / GENYOUth ideas to shame. She stated:
“The fat we eat is not the fat we get. The idea that 60 minutes of exercise can make up for a bad diet is disingenuous. You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.”
Her 2014 book details her 10-years investigation, revealing the lack of sound science to support low-fat diets. Not only are new studies bearing this out, old studies were found to have been “buried” by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and American Heart Association, because they did not support the fat-heart hypothesis of Ancel Keys.
GENYOUth and FUTP60 not only dutifully “followed” these government guidelines but in reality worked alongside the Obama administration to develop them and further the reach of this low-fat dogma.
The implementation of those school milk rules have cost dairy farmers plenty in lost milk sales. Losses so steep that they drove the gradual declines in fluid milk consumption (see Fluid Milk Timeline chart below) plunging downward like a rock from 2010 through 2017 (most recent full-year figures)
Timelines don’t lie. As we look at this fluid milk timeline, we can see the layered effects of government dietary policy, USDA requirements for fat-free milk (2010), that move occurring alongside the creation of GENYOUth (2010) and some reversal in whole milk trends moving higher after Nina Teicholz’s book Big Fat Surprise made the cover of Time magazine. Meanwhile, the past decade has also been one of FDA non-enforcement of milk’s standard of identity, allowing plant-based alternatives to take hold and proliferate.
Bob Gray for the Northeast Association of Farm Cooperatives addressed these losses on a dairy policy forum panel in Washington exactly one year ago on January 8, 2018. Gray said: “For the last six years (2010 through 2016 data), we have not been able to sell 1% milk in the schools.”
He noted that in just the four years from 2012 to 2015, dairy producers had “lost 288 million half pints of sales to schoolchildren because of this move, alone.” And those losses continued through 2016 and 2017 and into 2018, despite the small move by the Trump administration to allow 1% flavored milk back into schools.
This is an uphill battle to turn around — what with all the fat-free and low-fat promotion and the fact that schools are already aligned with processors that prefer to keep the fat-free pipeline going.
In addition to GENYOUth honoring Secretary Vilsack with the 2017 Vanguard Award, the National Dairy Board provided him a checkoff-funded salaried position as CEO of USDEC, where his rallying cry has been to get export sales to 20% of expanding total milk production while Class I sales as a percentage of total milk production declined to below 20% by the end of 2017.
Remember, experts at various dairy market forums throughout 2018 have made the point that exports do not raise farm-level milk prices because they are “commodity clearing markets.”
But maybe that is the point.
If fluid milk consumption erodes as a percentage of milk production, the cost of milk to processors is reduced for the many other products competing globally for export sales to increase. Meanwhile, a pipeline for fat-free milk sales keeps the cost of milkfat for other products from accelerating in the farm milk check.
The highest-value class under the Federal Order pricing scheme is the shrinking piece of an expanding commodity-dairy-production-for-export pie.
Meanwhile, the past decade has been one of FDA non-enforcement of milk’s standard of identity, allowing plant-based alternatives to take hold and proliferate.
One can argue that the National Dairy Council — whether simply following USDA’s lead or by working alongside USDA to lead — has played right into the hands of GENYOUth ‘friend’ PepsiCo / Quaker.
Remember, Quaker was a company that DMI specifically partnered with a few years back, but the milk part of the Quaker Oatmeal promotion never really materialized, just like we don’t see the milk part promoted in any of the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 spots. But the NFL is joined at the hip to PepsiCo with side-by-side logos during televised games.
Now, just six weeks after receiving the 2018 Vanguard award from GENYOUth, PepsiCo is launching its own Quaker Oat beverage.
In fact, PepsiCo CEO Albert Carey had the audacity to do a brief sales-pitch for what he called “our new oat milk” in his remarks after NFL commissioner Goodell handed him the highest GENYOUth award on behalf of the NFL and the National Dairy Council.
We’ll dig into that in future parts of this investigative series.
This editorial by Farmshine editor and publisher Dieter Krieg, appeared in the January 4, 2019 edition of Farmshine and is republished here with permission.
The fact that most of you have never heard of GENYOUth is reason to suspect that its goals are dubious and very likely not in your interest. The non-profit was founded in 2010 by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL). So, in the nine years since GENYOUth came to be, have you heard of it?
We discovered it in late 2017 … and not in a good way. On the contrary, we were appalled! All the more so because we had never heard of it. And surely the “dairy folks” at NDC, and its sister organizations, including ADA, UDIA, NDB and DMI would have had contact information for Farmshine. Indeed they did and do, regularly sending us “silly” stuff which is almost an insult to dairy farmers. Need an example? Turn to page 22, and see what DMI considers worthy of good news for you dairy producers.
In 2016, GENYOUth held its first “gala”… meaning they held their first very fancy gathering at one of the fanciest places this side of Paris. Internally, they patted themselves on their collective backs, but outside of their boardrooms and ballrooms, not a word. Were they — and are they — trying to keep their agenda out of your sight? Or, were you at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in December, 2016, for the inaugural high-class gathering of GENYOUth.
Don’t feel bad if you weren’t invited. Only a very select few dairy farmers (like maybe just one) gets to attend.
We suspect that dairy farmers are kept away and in the dark about it all because if they knew the truth … if they saw and heard what’s going on … there’d be a revolt. And that’s exactly what we need!
It wasn’t until December of 2017 that we were tipped off about the GENYOUth gala that had been held that month.
Once again, it was held in New York City, this time aboard the aircraft carrier, Intrepid — about as exotic a venue as you can find in the Big Apple. We’re sure it was nice, as well as shameful. We looked into it and concluded in short order that GENYOUth does not have the interests of America’s dairy farmers in mind. Not in the least. Not at all.
By the way, not mentioned in the GENYOUth report is where and when it was held. For the record, it took place on November 27th at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on 54th Street in
Manhattan. It bills itself as “New York City’s premier special events venue.” There’s really nothing wrong with that in itself.
What’s disturbing is that these galas feature some very heavy hitters with very deep pockets and they’re all united to promote, push and publicize skim and low-fat milk.
Their absolute mission is to change the culture of milk consumption. Down with whole milk; raise a glass of skim instead.
If you’re okay with that, then fine. If not, then it’s time for you to raise your voice.
Again, if you haven’t already read the GENYOUth article on page 18, please take the time to do so. You should know what’s going on behind your back. And don’t be surprised if you come away feeling like you’ve been stabbed in the back.
Shame on DMI, NDC, ADA, UDIA, NDB, USDEC for betraying the mission dairy farmers entrusted you with!