From the Dairy to D.C.

Imagine receiving an exclusive invite from the White House for their Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, a historic event happening for the first time in more than 50 years. Wisconsin dairy farmer and AgSource Council Member, Carrie Mess, couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw an email from the White House ping into her inbox. “I thought it was spam mail. It’s not often you get an email that says it’s from the White House… and it actually is,” she jokes.

So, with less than ten days until the Conference, Carrie booked her flight to Washington D.C. in anticipation.

Upon arrival, Carrie was joined by several hundred other guests. The gathering of government officials, academic professionals, agriculture workers, philanthropists, individuals from the private sector and youth prompted unity towards one bold goal: to end hunger in America and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030, reducing diet-related diseases for Americans.

Tapped for her advocacy work and experience in agriculture, Carrie notes the diverse representation of people was one of the most valuable parts of the Conference – aside from the meals prepared by award-winning chefs, of course.

“Personally, the best part was the networking. I sat by a school nurse for one of the sessions. She also happened to be vegetarian. We had a conversation about dairy farming and why we do what we do. I was able to address some of her concerns and she walked away with a better understanding of dairy farming,” Carrie explains.

“I was also able to connect with a woman I’ve been following on Instagram who has over 1.8 million followers, many of whom are moms. We sat down and had a really great chat about milk and picky eaters. She is probably one of the most influential people out there when it comes to getting moms on board with dairy.”

Though the Conference doesn’t mark any significant change for dairy farmers in the immediate future, Carrie is excited to continue conversations sparked in D.C. on topics like food insecurity and educating consumers. “As dairy farmers and agriculturists, we can use this as a jumping off point to inspire new ideas and crowd-share things that are working one place and take them to another. We can work together to make a dent in nationwide food insecurity.”

To Carrie’s point, dairy is an essential element moving forward and still preferred by most consumers. Real yogurt and cream were offered at the breakfast and coffee stations, both of which were gone before the alternative choices. And not to mention the mac and cheese option at lunch had the biggest line by far. “Behavior wise, it was pretty clear that people enjoy dairy just as much as you or I do,” Carrie adds.

No matter your role in the vastly changing dairy ecosystem, one thing is for sure. Dairy is alive and well.

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