Letter to the editor — November 15, 2010

This letter is in response to Emerson Lynn, jr.’s editorial regarding “USDA on both sides of the battle against obesity.” The editorial, as well as the New York Times article it references, have serious inaccuracies.
Most importantly, the dairy checkout program was created by farmers, for farmers, and is funded by America’s dairy farm families — and only by dairy farmers. It does not use any government or taxpayer dollars to promote dairy products in the United States.
I know this personally. As a local dairy farmer, I have an opportunity to serve on our promotion board that reviews and approves programs we fund in Kansas as well as regionally and nationally. And as Emerson is well aware, my father, Ivan, was the first chairman of the National Dairy Board when this dairy farmer program started in 1983. So these accusations hit pretty close to home.
I’m proud of the work we do with others to help enhance their product offerings. But that is only one component of what we do to enhance demand for dairy. The article overlooked Dairy Management Inc.’s unwavering commitment to health and wellness. DMI helps the dairy industry keep pace with both consumer preferences and the latest in dietary guidance by sharing nutrition science, product research and consumer research, which the industry uses to develop healthier choices in dairy foods, including reduced-fat and reduced sodium cheeses, and reduced sugar flavored milks.
More than 50 percent of DMI’s annual budget is allocated to advance dairy health and wellness efforts that are consistent with the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Those programs include: nutrition and product research; the in-school Fuel Up to Play 60 program that aims to help children’s health by bringing healthy eating and physical activity to more than 64,000 schools; efforts to help build a more sustainable U.S. dairy industry; and programs to meet consumer needs, such as those with real or perceived lactose intolerance.
I would encourage those who want to learn more about dairy to ask a dairy farmer like myself. You can also learn more about our programs such as Fuel Up To Play 60 on these websites: www.futp60.com; www.midwestdairy.com or www.thedairyreport.com.
As the Lynn family knows, our family has long been a supporter of great journalism typically represented by The Iola Register. Emerson Lynn, jr. is the best editorial writer I’ve had the privilege to read; we are lucky to have him here in my hometown. But the New York Times article and this particular editorial contribute to “public misinformation” already too prevalent in this country.
Dairy farmers — not USDA — fund these programs with our own hard-earned dollars, and we are very proud of our efforts, and the wholesome, nutritious dairy products we produce.

Steve Strickler
Iola, Kan.

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