What if every farm was an open place, for all people to go and learn. If you could just call and set up an appointment to visit the places that your food comes from. Maybe this whole idea isn’t possible, but bits and pieces of it are. For instance, in our county every year the children in second grade have ag in the classroom. This allows them to learn about all things ag, and in the spring they all take a field trip to the county fairgrounds where farmers bring an animal for the children to see and learn about, as well as ask questions.
I have personally been able to take a cow to this “Ag Safety Day” multiple times, and I love teaching the students about my animals. The questions that the second graders come up with can range from silly, like if cows can get married, to serious, like how do they actually make the milk. I think that it is important to teach the children at an early age about agriculture and where their food comes from, because in the near future they will be making purchasing decisions.
Another way for farmers to bring the public to their farms, is to allow schools to take tours. I know that we have had kindergarten and preschool classes come to watch us milk before. It’s great to watch how the little kids enjoy seeing the baby calves and the milking process. It’s something that they will go home to their parents and talk about for hours.
As dairy farmers, it is our job to interact with the public, and show them the processes and the reasons that we use the procedures that we do. It is our job to market our product and farms to show the consumers the time and care that we put into producing “nature’s purest drink.” One woman, that I believe is doing an excellent job of painting the picture of what dairy farmers do each and everyday, is Dairy Carrie. She not only explains how her family operates their farm, but she also talks about the important issues related to ag and dairy. We need more people like her around to help AGvocate our message to the consumers.
At times, I feel that all of the blame is put on consumers, that they don’t do enough to get informed, to know where their food really comes from. Maybe this needs to be looked at in a different light, what have the farmers done to show the consumers of their product how they produce it, where it comes from, and how much time and care they put into making it? I think the farmer should be somewhat credible for showing the consumers and public the blessing of what they do every day, and all the work they put into growing their product.