Farmers need to support each other, not attack


Ann Reus, Feed Strategy staff reporter, covers offbeat animal feed-related news and other topics.

Farmers need to support each other, not attack

Sheila_F |

Marketing should promote products without badmouthing competition

Agriculture is agriculture, and farmers should support each other, even if the products they produce appear to compete with one another.

That was the message from speakers during a session of the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s recent Virtual Stakeholders Summit.

Seemingly competing commodities, such as dairy milk and nut-based milk alternatives, can co-exist on grocery shelves and in consumers’ homes, according to Ryan Valk, a California poultry and almond grower.

“There’s so much room in our fridge for all of these different types of crops and commodities. And it’s OK that we don’t agree on every little thing,” he said. “We’re all in this together. In the big scheme of things, we’re all on the same team.”

In California, Valk said, dairy and almond producers support each other, rather than fighting for market share.

“Being in California, we have such a tie to the dairy industry. All our neighbors around us are dairy farmers, and a lot of them not only are dairy farmers, they also have almond orchards,” he said. “We use the byproducts from the almonds to support the dairy industry. The hulls that are around the almond, they will get shipped off for feed for cattle at dairies, and the shells will get shipped off for bedding for the livestock.”

So, much like the meat and poultry companies that have invested in plant-based meat alternatives, dairy producers can also find value in the production of nut-based milk alternatives.

“We all work together collaboratively and, from an environmental and sustainability standpoint, it makes us stronger by working together,” said New Mexico dairy farmer Tara Vander Dussen. “The waste of one farmer can be a valuable resource to another, and that’s a powerful story we should be talking about.”

And, in their marketing messages, producers should focus on the value of their products, rather than putting others in a negative light.

“It’s not an ‘us versus them’ at all, in my opinion. We have to be careful with the marketing side of that too,” Vander Dussen said. “I think there’s ways to market your product without badmouthing another product.”