Laurie Kyle and husband, Dave, milk 110 registered Holsteins three times a day on their dairy farm near Elkhorn, Wis. In addition to her role on the dairy — and being a mother of two — Laurie remains quite busy as a school librarian and nutritionist. She is a member of the Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) Dairy Farmer Spokesperson Network and authors a blog that allows her to write about her love of the dairy industry and nutrition. She discusses her experience with the Whole Living radio show, in addition to the benefits of being a dairy advocate.

Whole Living, a holistic health-oriented show on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Extreme dairy critic Joseph Keon — author of Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health — was a scheduled guest for an upcoming show.

Q). How did the opportunity come about for calling into the Whole Living radio show? DMI asked if I would be willing to participate by presenting the perspective of a producer and a health professional. I love to do research and I read up on Dr. Keon and his book. As he talked, he was saying more and more negative things about my passion for providing wholesome dairy products. I finally called and told the screener I am from the dairy state of Wisconsin, I’m a dairy producer and I’m also a nutritionist. Before I knew it, I was on the show. I knew I had to make my points all in a row because the minute I stopped talking, I wouldn’t get a chance again. I’m extremely passionate and told him I was disappointed he was saying negative things about dairy from a nutrition perspective. I felt I earned a victory for the dairy industry.

Q). How gratifying is it as a producer to set the record straight with anti-dairy viewpoints?
It’s very fun for me. I’m wired for that kind of stuff. I’m sure he was not expecting a call like that. I’m grateful DMI works to get producers these types of opportunities. We’re stressed as farmers and this distracted me in a very positive way. I feel I made a difference. That’s what producers can find — that this is a positive outlet and it’s like exercise for the brain. There were similar opportunities when I was taking my nutrition classes. I would hear people have an impression that dairy was bad. I have to educate them and it reaffirmed I made the right choice to combine my national spokesperson training with a nutrition science degree. I feel I can be very credible as a source for people to take seriously.

Q). What types of responses do you get from consumers who read your blog?
I have some very suspicious people who follow me, including one woman who attacks dairy. But she never frustrates me. Instead, she invigorates me. I know she is not the only person out there who feels that way. It helps me when I post something to know what they are thinking. I don’t care that I have negative people following me. They’re helping me tailor my speech to make it more powerful.

Q). What advice can you give other producers to tell their story?
They can start with something small to build up their confidence and find what role works for them. They can start by writing a letter to the editor of their local newspaper. That’s how I started. I then built up to newspapers outside my region and sent something to the Milwaukee, Wis. paper. Producers can give tours at their dairy if they are comfortable with that. At our farm, we hold a breakfast for 800 people. It’s a hands-on way to educate people. I started my blog a year ago and I try to post every day. It’s a big commitment, but I begin my day that way. But, start small and you’ll get some amazing feedback from people that prompts you to go to the next level. That’s what has given me confidence to try more things.

Q). How much does DMI training assist you in promoting the industry?
The first time I went to DMI for training, it shook me out of my boots. You have someone shoving a microphone in your face and you get videotaped in front of other people. I was very nervous, but now it doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s important to have DMI give you the training and information to make you aware. The training gives me the courage to tell our story and how important dairy farmers are. I have learned to take control of an interview. I was at a town hall meeting for our gubernatorial race and a reporter asked me a question about the candidates. I relied on techniques I learned through my training to answer the questions. The reporter later said “you should have my job.” It’s because DMI trained me for these types of situations. If they’re going to take the time to invest in me, I better use the tools.

Source: Dairy Management Inc.