Colo. dairy farmer leads sustainability conversation at #DairyAmazing Symposium
A world well-nourished is supported when groups with different backgrounds and expertise can gather to share ideas on sustainably feeding the population. And when it comes to the role dairy farming plays in sustainable nutrition, these ideas span from food to environmental impact, communities and everything in between. A crucial voice in these conversations is that of the farmer, and it’s more important than ever for dairy farmers to have a seat at the table.
Mary Kraft, fourth-generation dairy farmer from Fort Morgan, Colo., fulfilled that role by attending the fifth-annual #DairyAmazing Symposium hosted by Dairy MAX. Her presentation, “Healthy Cows, Healthy People, Healthy Planet,” gave the audience a look into sustainable practices that occur at her family owned and operated dairy farms, Badger Creek Farm and Quail Ridge Dairy.
Every year a group of 50-plus stakeholders from the health and wellness community are invited to the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas, to hear the latest dairy nutrition research from industry experts. This year’s sessions covered topics about strengthening sustainable food systems, dairy’s role in preventing hunger, and more. In between science presentations, the symposium had hands-on culinary demonstrations featuring dairy foods to help bring it all to life.
According to Kraft, it’s important for farmers to attend conferences with audiences like the health and wellness community to not only share the farmer’s story, but also gain a different perspective from allied industries. A food insecurity session led by Clancy Harrison, registered dietitian, TEDx speaker, and food justice advocate, opened Kraft’s eyes to the preconceived notions many have on that topic. Harrison’s presentation concluded by highlighting dairy’s affordability and nutrient profile, which is especially important for the food-insecure.
“The industry experts who spoke at Dairy Amazing Symposium really are on the dairy farmer’s side, and it was a pleasure to hear what messages are being shared about the science behind dairy’s nutrition,” she said.
Kraft is no stranger to advocating for the role dairy farming plays in a sustainable future. Her family has been farming in Colorado since 1906.
This experience showed when attendees at the symposium asked Kraft questions about dairy farming. Her answers were packaged neatly in simple analogies the audience could understand, like every cow having Bluetooth technology and how farmers are like dietitians by using what ingredients they have available to create a wholesome product.
One of Kraft’s biggest takeaways from #DairyAmazing Symposium was learning more about the role of registered dietitians and the importance of targeting this group.
“If you want to stay on the farm, you have to get off the farm and attend events like this,” she said. “I learned so much while advocating for our product. Hopefully I was able to help fellow farmers because I was there.”
Visit DairyMAX.org to learn more about how local checkoff works to educate health professionals on the science behind dairy’s nutritional benefits and the commitment farm families have to sustainability. ❖
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.