Wisconsin residents understand that dairy farmers are a vital part of the state economy, the CEO of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin told a Kewaunee County audience on Thursday (June 6).

Chad Vincent, the keynote speaker at the June Dairy Month Kickoff Breakfast at the Rendezvous in Luxemburg, shared the results of a survey that indicated 55 percent believe dairy has the greatest impact on Wisconsin’s economy, far ahead of health care, paper and other industries.

“It’s even more important today that we tell the stories about trust, sustainability and the environment,” Vincent said.

The mission of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin – the former Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board – is to promote the industry’s efforts to protect and preserve the environment and its herds, especially in the face of sometimes hostile responses on social media and elsewhere, he said.

Vincent said it’s important to host visitors from all over the country and the world “to get out on our dairy farms so they can see firsthand how well we treat the land, how well we treat the animals, and the fact that dairy is one of the most nutrient-rich products on the planet and how important it is.”

A majority of people in the group’s survey trust the dairy industry and believe farmers care for the environment, he said.

“People realize that if we’re not strong and the dairies aren’t strong, that rural Wisconsin can’t be strong,” Vincent said.

Wisconsin cheese is in 98 percent of the nation’s supermarkets, a testimony to the state’s reputation, he said.

He showed one of the videos that will be played in Marcus movie theaters during June Dairy Month, part of a series that can also be seen on YouTube featuring farmers focused on leaving a sustainable legacy.