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How to Respond to the Media in a Crisis, Part 3

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

March 23, 2016
How to Respond to the Media in a Crisis, Part 3

If you aren't ready to respond immediately, that's OK. Tell the reporter you are busy and ask if you can call them back in fifteen minutes or set up a later time to conduct the interview. Remember that reporters work on very tight deadlines and may be unwilling to put the interview off too long, but even a few minutes to collect your thoughts can help you prepare.

If you are being interviewed by radio or television reporters, chances are that only a fraction of what you say will actually be aired. Most news stories are only about 90 seconds long! With that in mind, make sure to lead with the most important thing that you want to get across-- your key message. Try to organize your overall message into no more than three main points. Research shows that in general people can only remember three messages at a time during a crisis, so establishing this format from the beginning will increase the likelihood of getting your message across.

During the interview, your goal is to create trust with listeners. Starting the interview by showing empathy for anyone negatively affected by the crisis and expressing how much you care about your animals, employees, the environment and/or the consumers can go a long way in swaying the listener to believe your message. Your next step is to tell the listeners what your farm is going to do in response to the crisis. Action steps make people feel better and will further your intent to create trust.

A few more tips:
  • Body language is important! If you don't look like you mean what you are saying, then nobody is going to believe you. Just be genuine.
  • If the interviewer takes the conversation in a direction that you aren't comfortable with, remember to stay calm and stick with your key message. Don't be afraid to say that you don't know, and never say "no comment" -- that always make you look guilty. Instead, explain why you can't answer.
  • Repeat your key message more than once, and be ready to summarize it at the end of the interview.
While I wouldn't wish this uncomfortable situation on anyone, I hope that after reading this article you take a few moments to imagine what you would do if you were asked to give an interview in response to a crisis on your dairy. What are your core beliefs as a farm? What might be your key messages?

Sources: "Telling Your Story: Talking About Animal Care." Presentation by Beth Meyer, ADADC. January 20th, 2016. WCDI Animal Welfare Course.











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Dairy Cattle Summer Research Update

July 18, 2019
Batavia, NY

After the day's work is done, come hear about two new research trials conducted by Julio Giordano's lab:
  • Strategies for improving dairy cattle reproductive performance and economics
  • Using automated sensors for improving dairy cattle health monitoring and management

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Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

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July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
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USDA Announces New Decision Tool for New Dairy Margin Coverage Program

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2019 ? Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the availability of a new web-based tool - developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin - to help dairy producers evaluate various scenarios using different coverage levels through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

The 2018 Farm Bill authorized
DMC, a voluntary risk management program that offers financial protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. It replaces the program previously known as the Margin Protection Program for Dairy. Sign up for this USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) program opens on June 17.

"With sign-up for the
DMC program just weeks away, we encourage producers to use this new support tool to help make decisions on participation in the program," Secretary Perdue said. "Dairy producers have faced tough challenges over the years, but the DMC program should help producers better weather the ups and downs in the industry."

The University of Wisconsin launched the decision support tool in cooperation with FSA and funded through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. The tool was designed to help producers determine the level of coverage under a variety of conditions that will provide them with the strongest financial safety net. It allows farmers to simplify their coverage level selection by combining operation data and other key variables to calculate coverage needs based on price projections.

The decision tool assists producers with calculating total premiums costs and administrative fees associated with participation in
DMC. It also forecasts payments that will be made during the coverage year.

The new Dairy Margin Coverage program offers very appealing options for all dairy farmers to reduce their net income risk due to volatility in milk or feed prices," said Dr. Mark Stephenson, Director of Dairy Policy Analysis, University of Wisconsin, Madison. "Higher coverage levels, monthly payments, and more flexible production coverage options are especially helpful for the sizable majority of farms who can cover much of their milk production with the new five million pound maximum for Tier 1 premiums. This program deserves the careful consideration of all dairy farmers."

For more information, access the tool at For
DMC sign up, eligibility and related program information, visit or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1