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Dairy brought to life

TAGS: Dairy
Curt Arens Dairy cows at feeder
BUILDING TRUST: Tracy Behnken, a graduate of LEAD 15 and farmer relations and communications director in Nebraska for Midwest Dairy, discusses the importance of telling the family dairy farm story.
LEAD Comment: A LEAD graduate takes on a new role representing Nebraska dairy farmers with Midwest Dairy.

June is Dairy Month. Personally, I would say that dairy should be enjoyed every month, and for sure, every day. Those who know me know that this is not a surprising statement, considering I grew up on Mohrview Farm Inc., a dairy farm near Omaha, and my family continues to dairy farm.

I now serve on staff at Midwest Dairy, a checkoff promotion organization representing 5,800 dairy farm families across a 10-state region.

Dairy credentials

Having grown up on a dairy farm, I have a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in human development and the family with an ag education minor — both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Before joining Midwest Dairy, I had a long, successful career of more than 32 years with Nebraska Extension within 4-H youth development and focusing on agriculture literacy. I retired from Extension in January and began my new career in the role of farmer relations and communications director in Nebraska for Midwest Dairy.

I participated in LEAD 15, and I’m a member of the Nebraska LEAD Alumni Association, where I’ve served as president and on the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council board. My husband, Craig, who graduated from LEAD 21, and I have two sons in high school, Walker and Carter.

Farmers represented by Midwest Dairy bring dairy foods to 39 million consumers in our 10-state region. Working on behalf of dairy farmers, Midwest Dairy strives to maximize the investment of every dairy farmer dollar through creative thinking and collaboration with a wide variety of partners.

The foundation of our work is the vision, “to bring dairy to life for a better world.” Our mission is “to work with others to give consumers an excellent dairy experience.”

Midwest Dairy is kicking off a new three-year strategic plan that builds on our earlier successes and learnings and provides even more focus to deliver results. The focus is on key objectives to maximize dairy farmers’ investment to address timely, important factors in driving dairy demand and building consumer trust in dairy.

Midwest Dairy also offers multiple opportunities for dairy farmers to get involved locally, connect with consumers and contribute to activities that build that consumer trust.

Goodness of milk

Research backs the importance of including dairy in your diet. Dairy is nutrient-rich, packed with 13 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, calcium, vitamin D and more. Studies show that three dairy servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods improve overall diet quality and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.

Not only does dairy pack a nutritious punch, but we also have a great story to tell about the journey of milk from farm to table. Midwest Dairy is focused on telling this great story and working with partners to bring dairy to life by meeting consumers where they are and taking dairy to unexpected places. Dairy is good for people and good for the planet.

I am excited to represent Nebraska dairy farmers in my new role, and I am looking forward to working with dairy farmers and dairy advocates to “bring dairy to life for a better world.”

Behnken is a graduate of LEAD 15.

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