Connecting South Dakota farmers to consumers is always a joy. In fact, that’s what Hungry for Truth is all about. True to our mission, we had the wonderful opportunity of connecting, SDSU student and farmer, Jaclynn Knutson with SDSU’s Dairy Farm and operation at South Dakota State University to talk all things dairy, and of course, ice cream! Although born and raised on a farm herself, Jaclynn spent an afternoon learning about a new area of agriculture- dairy. Today, Jaclynn is sharing her perspective of her recent SDSU’s dairy cattle farm and manufacturing facility.
As one that was born and raised on a farm, agriculture has always and will always be something that is very important to me. On my family’s seventh generation farm, we raise crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and cover crops) and animals (beef cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens). Through my active involvement in this operation, I consider myself knowledgeable in many agriculture industries and products. One area of agriculture that I have never had much experience with is dairy.
With June being dairy month, I recently made a trip to South Dakota State University’s dairy cattle farm and manufacturing facility. While on this tour, I was reminded the importance of all aspects of agriculture, and why farmers do what they do. I have three thoughts that surfaced during this experience:
1. I love dairy. It didn’t take long while enjoying my SDSU ice cream after our tour to be reminded how much I love dairy products. I am a regular consumer of most any type of dairy – milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. Being as curious as I am, I have tried different milk substitute products. I think it is great that those that cannot consume milk products have the opportunity to consume products with similarities. Although I will admit these products do taste decent, I will always choose a dairy product over a dairy substitute.2. The decisions I make in relation to my purchases at the grocery store are made confidently because of the research I do about those products. I understand the brands I choose to buy – which brings integrity to both the producer and me as a consumer. Other consumers make different purchases from me at the grocery store, and that is okay with me – as long as those decisions are made from educated research. I’m not talking about what one heard from a friend or read through a quick Google search. It is important for consumers to truly research the products they consume and the morals behind those products. I have no problem with someone making different choices from me, but I want consumer’s choices to be made with their own thoughts involved. As someone that just graduated with an agricultural communications degree, I struggle when companies use scare marketing to convince consumers to buy their products. To all, I urge you to take the time to understand what are on your product’s labels and what ingredient(s) are in those products.3. Creating agriculture products is not easy – especially dairy. Growing up around animals, I understand the importance of properly caring for them. All animals need fed, watered and cared for properly. The animals I grew up with, however, did not need milked 2-3 times every day. The dairy industry is very interesting – where making sure the animals have feed and water twice a day is not enough. These animals are on a very strict time schedule for the well-being of the animals. The dairy industry – both in farms and manufacturing – is a 24-7-365 job. Mother nature has shown that she can be difficult, but for farmers, she has been a different type of difficult. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on their animals and the product they can deliver to market. For that reason, I trust my agriculture products that I purchase to be at the highest possible quality.Based on these three points, it makes me appreciate what dairy farmers do even more. I have the utmost respect for the service and product they provide to myself as a consumer. I challenge you that the next time you see a farmer, thank them because their job is not an easy one. They struggle every day to try to pay the bills. As most farmers are like my dad and don’t expect gratitude, a simple “thank you” can often go a long way. I also challenge everyone that if you have a question about the agriculture industry, ask. Even as one that is deeply involved in the industry, but I continue to ask questions to be better educated and challenge you to do the same.
About Jaclynn Knutson
Born as a seventh generation agriculturist and farmer, Jaclynn Knutson was raised on her family’s crop and livestock operation. She always had a passion for agriculture, but became very involved with the operation in high school and fell in love with promoting her passion to others. Majoring at SDSU in agriculture communications, she plans to continue to promote the industry and help others understand where their food and fiber comes from.