Top 10 reasons to open your farm doors and invite the public in for a tour

Michigan State University Extension Breakfast on the Farm organizers are looking for farm hosts.

November 13, 2018 - Author: Ted Ferris , Mary Dunckel , Ashley Kuschel

Breakfast on the Farm event.
Breakfast on the Farm event. Photo by Ted Ferris, MSU Extension.

Michigan State University Extension’s Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) program has become a popular event that provides consumers with a first-hand look at modern agriculture. These events receive tremendous support from local and statewide organizations, volunteers and host families. Owners of dairy, beef, crop and apple farms have embraced transparency by graciously opening their farms to consumers. These events are making a difference in consumer perspectives and trust with over 89,000 participants at 40 events in Michigan. So, what are some good reasons to open your doors and make a contribution to educating the public about modern food production? The data cited here is a compilation from Breakfast on the Farm exit and online follow-up surveys.

Top 10 reasons to host an educational farm tour:

10. Company is coming, and you will get your farm spruced up a bit.

9. You'll get great support from MSU Extension, fellow farmers, agribusinesses, friends and family to plan and host BOTF.

8. You will get financial support from local and statewide sponsors to finance your event.  

7. Participants will be very thankful to you for opening your doors and allowing them to walk through your farm.  

6. You will receive thank you notes and many complements about your farm and make new friends with your neighbors while possibly changing their impressions of your farm.

5. Participants will share what they learn with friends, family and co-workers. Each participant communicates with about 22 others regarding their experience; covering topics like how animals are housed and cared for, steps to ensure that milk, meat or grains are safe and telling them they need to attend a BOTF event!

BOTF 3

Photo by Ted Ferris, MSU Extension. 

4. Your event will showcase what is good about agriculture and consumer trust in modern food production will increase. Previous results indicate that those with high and very high level of trust in modern food production increases from the 66 percent before to 91 percent after their dairy farm tour and from 56 percent to 80 percent for beef tours.

3. Consumer trust in safe food, including the safety of milk and genetically engineered (GE/GMOs) crops will increase. For example, visitors with high or very high level of trust in milk as a safe food shifted from 80 percent before the tour to 97 percent after their tour. For beef, this shift was 70 to 90 percent that farmers will do the right thing to produce safe, wholesome food. Lastly, 49 percent strongly agree or agree that they are more comfortable with how genetically modified crops are used on farms.

2. Increase consumer trust that farmers care for their animals and land. Consumer impression of dairy housing shifted from 62 percent positive or very positive before to 95 percent positive or very positive after their tour. In addition, consumer trust that farmers will do the right thing in caring for their animals shifted from 76 percent before to 97 percent after. Consumer trust that farmers are caring for the environment shifted from 76 percent of participants with high or very high trust before to 96 percent after.

1. You will help increase consumers trust in farmers! When asked “As a result of today’s tour, my trust in dairy farmers as a source of information about food production has increased”, 73 percent of first-time visitors (those who have not been on a dairy farm in the past 20 years) strongly agree and 91 percent either agree or strongly agree. 

Bonus reason: About 20 percent of BOTF participants to dairy farms indicate that they have increased their purchases of milk, cheese and yogurt as a result of their tour!!  A recent exit survey shows 28 percent of 1st-timers and 32 percent of all respondents strongly agreed that they would purchase more beef as a result of their tour. Based upon survey history with dairy products, we can expect about half of these participants to follow through on additional purchases of beef.

BOTF 2

Children interacting with cows at a BOTF event. Photo by Ashley Kuschel, MSU Extension. 

BOTF events are making a difference. Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) has been partnering with host farm families and industry organizations to provide consumers an opportunity to learn more about how their food is produced. You can make a difference in consumer perceptions and trust by hosting an event on your farm in the near future. Whether you are interested in hosting in 2019, 2020 or later, you can find host information, a listing of previous hosts to contact and a host farm application form

For more information, contact Mary Dunckel, agriculture literacy educator, at 989-354-9875 or dunckelm@msu.edu or Ashley Kuschel, BOTF program coordinator, at 586-469-7616 or kuschela@msu.edu.

Tags: breakfast on the farm, msu extension


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