Gallup recently released their “Americans’ Views of U.S. Business and Industry Sectors 2020” and the results show consumers’ view of farming and agriculture has improved over the past year, jumping up 11%. Now topping the list and beating out 25 other business and industry sectors, including the retail, internet and travel industries. The sports industry has taken the biggest hit, falling 15% points from last year and coming in 23rd out of 25 sectors.
Rewind back to the beginning of 2020: Joaquin Phoenix was using his Oscar acceptance speech to denounce dairy farmers. Suddenly, it seemed dairy farmers were Public Enemy No. 1 as Starbucks and other major retailers encouraged plant-based alternatives in the name of “Veganuary,” a campaign that aims to get people to adopt a plant-based diets. In reality, dairy’s role in greenhouse gas emissions is today — and has always been — part of a natural cycle that occurs when cows methane emissions are reabsorbed by plants entirely unlike the emissions from cars, factories … or even the planes like that Mr. Joaquin himself undoubtably takes to travel around the globe. Direct emissions from the dairy industry accounts for only 2% of the total greenhouse gas contribution, emitting mainly from rumen digestion and manure — and based largely on a variety of natural processes.
Despite many people’s efforts to go vegan to help the environment Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor at the University of California-Davis said, “It does not have a huge result. The dairy industry does not only talk big about making improvements. Results from decades of data show words turned into measurable actions. The nation used to have 25 million dairy cows in 1950. Today, there are 9 million. Despite the decrease in herd sizes, farmers are producing 60 percent more milk, which totaled a two-thirds reduction in the carbon footprint”.
The truth is, farmers care. They care enough to dedicate their lives to providing quality and affordable food and fiber to families across our country. They do this without expectation of thanks or recognition. It’s one of the oldest professions and , during times of uncertainty, one that will persevere despite a pandemic, catastrophic weather and economic woes. Farmers are resilient and consumers now recognize we must count on the U.S. food supply in order to keep the store shelves stocked. Farming families across the nation — long after the fears of the pandemic subsides — will continue to work hard as they treat their animals with care and dignity. They will strive to use innovation to feed more mouths with less land and use fewer resources to preserve the environment for future generations — just as they had before the onset of the pandemic.
Let’s not forget to thank a farmer; not just today, but everyday. — By Walt Moore, President of the American Dairy Coalition