DairyCo, a not-for-profit body funded by a levy on milk products, is holding a three-way pitch next week for a retained brief currently held by Nexus PR.
Nexus, which took on the brief in July 2009, is thought to be on the repitch shortlist.
The other two agencies are from the eight-strong Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board roster, which includes Good Relations, Weber Shandwick, Porter Novelli and 3 Monkeys.
The successful agency will help shape perceptions of the dairy industry, with a focus on the environmental and animal welfare reputation of dairy farming.
EU rules mean that DairyCo does not promote British dairy products specifically, but backs the industry more generally by providing evidence-based responses to common criticisms.
A particular focus is the suggestion that the industry is a key contributor to climate change due to methane emissions from dairy farms.
DairyCo has produced numerous reports on the issue and is looking to communicate the work that farmers have done to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Amanda Ball, head of marketing comms at DairyCo, confirmed the process was under way and said that the organisation was looking for help to promote ‘modern dairy farming’ and tackle ‘old-fashioned perceptions about the industry’.
She added that its levy method of funding has meant it has not suffered the sharp reduction in marketing budgets that other public sector bodies have experienced.
Ball said: ‘Farmers still feel it is important to invest in public relations and educate consumers about the industry.’
The brief also encompasses an aspect of political engagement, helping regulators understand the financial pressures dairy farmers have come under in recent years.