Dairy Checkoff Reflects On 2023 Milestones

Dairy Management Inc. has announced significant outcomes in 2023 on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and importers.

“This past year, we built on our collective successes while defining the next chapter of the checkoff’s history,” says DMI President and CEO Barbara O’Brien. DMI manages the national dairy checkoff program.

O’Brien is also the president and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, a voluntary organization that works across the dairy value chain to foster collaboration and progress to advance U.S. dairy’s interest. She explains that ASPIRE is the acronym for DMI’s strategic areas of focus: Sustainability, People, Innovation, Reputation, and Exports.

“Staffs at local, national and international levels have worked together to deliver meaningful results and ensure funders see a whole new level of transparency and accountability for their investment,” she says.

A few of the highlights include:


  • The checkoff actively engaged in research and piloted technologies to offer economically viable sustainability solutions for farmers.
  • The Feed in Focus program, which involved 31 farms, covered more than 9,000 acres and 20,000 cows. It disbursed nearly $500,000 in farmer incentives.
  • More than $10 million in new commitments from external partners and organizations were secured for the Net Zero Initiative programs. These target 2050 environmental goals, including $7.2 million in Greener Cattle Initiative grants.
  • The Innovation Center bolstered engagement and collaboration with 39 companies representing 75 percent of the milk supply joining the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment, and a significant increase in participation at various sustainability convening meetings.


  • More than 200 million milk equivalent pounds of growth were achieved through partnerships with major foodservice brands. These include McDonald’s McFlurries and the new Grimace shake, Domino’s Loaded Tots and Stuffed Cheesy Bread, and Taco Bell’s Grilled Cheese Burrito, now a permanent menu item, and the rollout of frozen beverages.
  • The checkoff activated three major growth landscapes in health and wellness, foodservice, and beverage, inspiring innovation across the industry.
  • Collaborations with Mayo Clinic, University of California-Davis, and Cornell have led to significant advancements in dairy research.

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

Advanced U.S. dairy’s collective engagement and progress within the pre-competitive social responsibility areas important to consumers and customers, including:

  • Increased U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment adopters to 39 companies representing 75 percent of the milk supply.
  • Increased membership within the Dairy Sustainability Alliance to 200 member companies and organizations.
  • Achieved strong attendance and engagement at key industry and broader agricultural meetings including the Dairy Sustainability Alliance Fall meeting (335 attendees) and the Sustainable Ag Summit (record attendance of 925 people).


  • “See Dairy Differently” Campaign challenges consumer and thought leader misconceptions about dairy production and has garnered over 180 million impressions.
  • Strategic content planning has drawn more than 4.3 million views from 3.1 million users to USDairy.com.
  • Leveraging dairy nutrition and environmental science, stories about farmers and sustainable production, popular trends and recipes, the checkoff secured media placements in major and local outlets reaching nearly 2.7 billion readers.
  • Collaborations with Mayo Clinic and National Medical Association enhanced the reputation of dairy in health and science circles.


  • Despite challenges, there has been a significant increase in exports. One example is through a partnership with Yum China to grow U.S. cheese use, delivering 10.84 million cheese pounds so far.
  • Shift focus from mainly short-term promotional support to include permanent menu innovation and new products. This includes Domino’s Pan Pizza launching in Saudi Arabia and UAE, which utilizes 20 percent more U.S. cheese. In addition, AMPI’s Dinner Bell Creamery premium processed cheese expanded across specialty burger chain menus in China.

“We had an amazing year of momentum and progress,” O’Brien says. “The focus for 2024 remains on delivering short-term demand and sales at the same time we’re building the pipeline for future growth through science and innovation. And we’ll continue to engage farmers from across the country—securing their input, listening to feedback, sharing the work and results in a way we know resonates.”