With more bus drivers in the U.S. today than farmers, 'There is a large audience to talk to about food production who have never been there and done that,' said Kim Bremmer.
Bremmer was the keynote speaker during the opening day of the fourth annual convention of the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Feb. 12-13 at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center.
She grew up on a farm, and is now a wife and the mother of two. A graduate of the UW-Madison, she was a dairy nutritionist for nearly 15 years.
Currently Bremmer is the Wisconsin State Coordinator for Common Ground, a national movement of farm women who share information about farming and the food we grow. She is also a regular contributor to rural Route Radio, president of Wisconsin Women for Agriculture, and a member of the National Speaker's Association and American Dairy Coalition.
She is a vocal champion of agriculture everywhere she goes, from the grocery store to the airport. Her true passion is sharing the REAL story of agriculture with everyday consumers.
'As a dairy consultant, I had the great opportunity to work with farms of all shapes and sizes, and can share experiences and perspective on modern agriculture from the people who are actually doing it,' she said.
Counter emotional marketing
'Now, we live in a time when marketing plays on emotions, and the opinions of journalists trump solid peer-reviewed science every single day,' Bremmer asserted.
She said the marketing campaigns drive consumers to buy the latest and greatest organic, natural food that's GMO-free, rBst free, cage free, hormone free, humanely raised and responsibly produced.
'However, all the strategic words and labels, come are the expense of consumers' trust in agriculture,' Bremmer remarked. 'The latest buzz words must be good, and the conventional must be bad. The story of agriculture is being told by people selling stories, not by those actually involved in agriculture every day.'
Bremmer is out to change the narrative one consumer at a time. One of her favorite things to do is go to the grocery store either at 5:30 Friday afternoon or Sunday morning after church.
'Some of my best conversations about farming and food happen then because it's so easy to strike up a conversation with someone comparing labels in the dairy aisle or at the meat counter, and I ask if they have any questions,' she related.
'I tell them I'm simply a mom who understands the importance of feeding my family the healthiest food, and I get the great opportunity to work on different dairy farms every day,' Bremmer explained. 'Then I share my perspective on different farming practices.'
According to Bremmer, the real tragedy is how truly scared people have become of food at a time when farmers are producing the safest food in history, and using fewer resources to do it.
'My mission at every visit to the grocery store is to give people permission to not fear their food,' she stressed.
'I see how the animals are raised everyday and how the land is cared for. I have friends who are organic farmers, but I would never pay more for the food they produce,' she added.
Bremmer believes the biggest misconception is that a label means that something is safer or healthier.
'A great example of this is the fact that added steroids and hormones aren't even allowed in poultry production in the United States, yet consumers continually pay a premium for chicken labeled 'hormone free' in the grocery store,' she remarked.
She emphasized that it's not the production method that matters, but rather it's the human element that makes the difference.
'I always encourage people to visit a farm if they have questions about agriculture instead of merely relying on the Internet,' she stressed. 'I could take you to visit a beautiful 35-cow dairy or a 3,500-cow dairy. They use different management practices but both provide safe, high quality food.
'I don't ever want to be forced to pay more for food with a fancy label when I understand the safety of conventionally raised food, and get to see it every day.
Bremmer also believes that transparency and authenticity at the farm level are more important that ever to consumers.
'I'm proud of agriculture today. You should be, too,' she said. 'Share the real story. It's time to speak up!'