Preparing for the Unpredictable

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – February 23, 2023 – Issues and crises are unfortunate realities not localized to agriculture, a specific region, or even a country. The threat to dairy farming and the reputation of dairy is an ever-changing landscape; with this in mind, Dairy MAX recently expanded the Issues and Crisis Team to meet challenges head-on in the dairy sector. With combined experiences of 50+ years working in issues and crisis, the team works on enhancing, preparing, and strengthening its relationships with dairy farmers and professionals across the industry to protect dairy’s image.

“Dairy MAX is recognized as a leader in training and preparing farmers for potential crises; our expanded team will elevate this work in many different ways,” says Kay Johnson Smith, chief operating officer at Dairy MAX.

Dairy MAX will continue to prioritize crisis readiness and work together across the industry to ensure preparedness. Telling Your Story is the flagship communications training for dairy farmers and industry professionals in the Dairy MAX region. Participants work in small groups to enhance their communication skills and dive deeper into how communication in a crisis is different yet critical. Trainings are held several times a year for various groups offering storytelling techniques, suggestions for handling difficult questions, and tips for managing an on-camera interview.

More than 200 farmers and stakeholders have been trained through Telling Your Story. Upon completion, participants can confidently deliver messages about modern dairy practices and share dairy’s story in today’s changing media landscape.

The coordination and monitoring of issues extend well past the activism world. “I know people tend to think of activists when it comes to crises, but it goes far beyond that,” says Johnson Smith. “It could be anything from natural disasters to food safety issues or trends across other animal agriculture sectors.” 

Understanding that there isn’t a single ‘biggest threat,’ the Issues and Crisis Team will collaborate across all Dairy MAX program areas to identify threats and employ best practices. These discussions will include various situations affecting influencers, healthcare professionals, processors, and more. “We will focus not just on the farm side, but what could be hot-button issues for school marketing, health and wellness, and business development,” says Johnson Smith. “Regular meetings with the team will ensure that each area is aligned on the protocols and are aware of the resources and help available to them and their stakeholders through the Issues and Crisis Team.” A cornerstone of issues and crisis preparedness is strong relationships. “Having these relationships already established is invaluable because when an issue or crisis hits, we can connect quickly with the right people,” says Jayce Winters, director of issues and crisis at Dairy MAX. “When we work with other partners to share resources, knowledge, and experience, we are stronger together, which benefits all involved.” Dairy MAX works alongside the national dairy checkoff, industry groups, co-ops, and brands to ensure the industry speaks with one voice in a crisis. Since 2001 an industry-wide risk management plan has been in place to protect the reputation of U.S. dairy at home and abroad through strategic communication, cross-organizational engagement, and coordinated action.

Organizations that prepare for a crisis recover two to three times faster than those without a crisis plan. Through extensive industry research, educational training resources, strong industry partnerships, and years of experience, the Dairy MAX team works hard to prepare for the unpredictable, so Dairy MAX farmers and stakeholders have the tools they need if a crisis occurs.

With the reputation of dairy products and the livelihood of dairy farmers at stake during a crisis, Dairy MAX is prepared with a trained team, powerful partners, and tested messages in place. To learn more, contact Jayce Winters.


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