When most people hear “Land O’Lakes,” their brain immediately goes to our iconic dairy products. The butter, cheese and desserts you find in dairy cases and refrigerators across the country. Of course, we’re proud of our dairy products but, as we celebrate June Dairy Month, we’re also shedding a little light on the multitude of ways we contribute to the success of the dairy industry.
From the crops dairy farmers plant, to the nutrition programs they provide their animals, all the way to the hauling, processing and marketing of their raw ingredient (otherwise known as milk), Land O’Lakes, Inc. has a role to play every step of the way.
“I think it’s a no brainer for the co-op and its members,” says Burli Hopkins, Land O’Lakes dairy member-owner from Delaware. “It only makes sense that we partner with one another on the feed and the crop inputs side since it all ties in to what we’re doing as dairy producers.”
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the beginning. In 1921 we were founded by a group of dairy farmers in Minnesota who needed help effectively marketing their milk, and we have been owned and governed by farmers ever since. From that original group, we produced an innovation, sweet cream butter, then created a recognizable brand name and began negotiating a value-added price with grocers across the country.
A spirit carried through to today
For decades, the LAND O LAKES brand has represented quality and innovation in the dairy case. From the original butter products to our spreadable line, half-sticks and new European-style Butter, not to mention our history of award-winning cheeses and superior dairy powders and ingredients, our dairy business has an impressive resume.
But what good is that resume if we don’t share it? As a co-op it’s always been our responsibility to market and add value to our member-owners’ milk production. Over the years we’ve done pretty well but recently we’ve been taking our marketing efforts to the next level.
“We have a strong history and we've built a strong brand,” says Heather Anfang, vice president of marketing for Dairy Foods. “But it was a natural time to take a look at how we're doing things to more effectively connect with consumers today and well into the future.”
You can already see the difference as we’ve introduced a series of new campaigns that share our story and highlight the importance of our cooperative roots. Our new Add a Little Good™ campaign, which you’ll learn more about on Monday, is centered on the idea of leaving the world a little better than we found it. We also launched a new video that shows just how similar U.S. farmers are with their counterparts around the world.
These are just the latest in a long line of marketing efforts that have helped LAND O LAKES emerge as one of the premier names in dairy spanning nearly a century.
“I know neighbors who market their milk locally and, in a given month, they may brag about getting more than we do. But that local co-op is out of business now and we’re not,” says Burli. “Knowing Land O’Lakes has our back helps me sleep at night. I know Land O’Lakes is going to do everything they can to market our milk as well as they can.”
More than butter
Building on our founding mission, we learned pretty quickly—as early as the late 1920s—that in addition to serving as the marketing muscle for our members, we could also play an important role in the input side of the equation–the feed and forage every dairy farmer needs run their operation.
Today our Purina Animal Nutrition business is known as a leading researcher responsible for a number of animal nutrition breakthroughs. Purina provides a variety of dairy feeds, supplements and programs at each stage of a cow’s life to help dairy farmers have healthy and productive herds. At the heart of that is the research, development and learning that begins at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center.
We recently brought a group of our larger dairy producers to the center to bring the research to life and help them understand the technology and insights behind Purina’s dairy nutrition program. Let’s just say the more than 24,000 studies conducted at the 1,200 acre farm tend to leave an impression.
“They’re doing a great job. It’s really eye opening,” says Burli. “I came home and immediately incorporated some things the scientists recommended. We’re exploring some ways to combine what we already do well with some of the things they suggested to make the most of our feed investment.”
For most dairy producers, their feed investment begins with their very own fields since they grow the majority of the forage and grain they provide their animals. The key is maximizing every acre with high quality crops. Luckily we have a crop inputs business known for cutting-edge precision agriculture tools and insights.
“For dairy farmers, the quality of their forage plays a direct role in the quality of their feed, which ultimately impacts their milk production and the profitability of their dairies,” says Glenda Gehl, director of Land O’Lakes’ Master Dairy Advisor program. “Whether it’s seed products, inputs, adjuvants or anything else, Winfield US has the technology and data to help farmers reach their goals.”
One offering tailored specifically for dairy farmers is our new HarvXtra™ Alfalfa. This first-of-its-kind technology was developed to help farmers maximize the quality of their alfalfa while also offering more flexibility in their harvest schedules.
“I am excited about the work they’re doing with alfalfa,” says Burli. “We’d been exploring getting away from alfalfa because it’s labor intensive. But with HarvXtra™ it sounds like it’s a much more appealing crop and another new potential tool for our cropping toolkit.”
As you can see, June Dairy Month takes on a whole new meaning for us.
“From our 2,300 dairy member-owners to the thousands more we work with through our feed and crop inputs businesses, we’re proud to support the farmers working day in and day out to provide high quality and nutritious milk,” says Glenda.
So next time you see a LAND O LAKES® product in your local grocery store, know that it’s supported by nearly a century of innovation, the very best in animal nutrition and the latest insights in sustainable and productive crop farming. You should probably buy it.