Brunch on the Farm: Connecting Consumers to Agriculture

By Kimmi Devaney

Spending time on a dairy is my idea of a great day. But for most of the American population, this is a very rare occurrence. In fact, the average American is three to four generations removed from the farm. Less than two percent of all Americans work in agriculture, and dairy is an even smaller proportion. That’s why we at the American Dairy Association host Brunch on the Farm during June Dairy Month each year to help connect consumers to agriculture.

On Saturday June 18th, more than 500 people attended the brunch at Nor-Bert Farms in Bremen, Indiana. This was an excellent opportunity to tour a working dairy farm, see robotic milking machines in action (they are pretty neat!) and to enjoy breakfast with the family. The event was free, but participants were encouraged to bring canned goods to be donated to a local food pantry. In all, we donated 602.5 pounds of food! Thanks to everyone who helped make that happen.

Attendees ranged from dairy farmers to those who had never seen cows before. We caught up with a few of our younger visitors to get their opinion on the farm. Claire, Hanna and Joel from Osceola had never been to a farm before and thought it was “cool” and “fun.” After the tour, they all agreed their favorite part of the morning was watching the robots milk the cows. Laura from Muncie visited with her entire family. They are involved in agritourism, so she had a closer connection to the industry. “I really liked being on a farm,” she said. “I miss my cows!”  Like the others, Laura also enjoyed watching the robotic milking machines.

I helped the Dankert family with farm tours and was thrilled to see so much excitement and interest as we gave them a glimpse into a day on the dairy. The Dankerts use technology to improve efficiencies on the farm, as well as save time and labor. In addition to the robotic milking machines, they have an automated calf feeder that dispenses milk to calves less than 60 days of age. Throughout this time, the calf will gradually be weaned—or transitioned—off milk and her diet will consist of grain and hay. While calves are always a favorite, the highlight of the tour was the robotic milking machines, which replace people in the milking parlor. Robotic milkers are not very common in Indiana, and they were a big hit among consumers and dairy farmers alike.

Attendees enjoyed sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches; cereal; apple sauce; and lots of dairy products, including yogurt, string cheese, and chocolate and white milk.  In addition to farm tours, we had word puzzles for the kids, nutrition education displays and of course, lots of information on dairy farming! Radio personalities from Sunny 101.5 of South Bend were also on hand for part of the morning broadcasting live from the farm.

If you missed the opportunity to attend Brunch on the Farm in Bremen, stay tuned for the announcement of next year’s location. To learn more about dairy farming, visit DairyFarmingToday.org or WinnersDrinkMilk.com.

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