Breakfast on the Farm participants shared learning

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click image to zoomBreakfastonthefFarm Breakfast on the Farm (BOTF) has attracted over 50,000 participants since the initial event was organized in 2009 by Michigan State University Extension and Clinton County Farm Bureau. Exit surveys indicate over 90 percent of participants leave BOTF events held on dairy farms with positive impressions about modern dairy farming, increased trust in milk as a safe food and increased trust in farmers as a source of information about food production. A recent online survey shows more than 88 percent of participants told others they should attend a BOTF event.

A total of 244 households responded to the email survey which asked if and to whom participants had talked about their BOTF experience. Of that number, 228 specified the category of people with whom they had talked: 23 percent had talked with family members; 24 percent with friends; 13 percent with friends on social media; 7 percent with others on social media; 10 percent with other parents; 14 percent with co-workers; and 10 percent with other individuals. The email survey represents a 56 percent response rate from 438 households who provided email addresses during their visit to a BOTF event held at dairy farms in 2012.

Topics reported to have been discussed by participants surveyed following BOTF events were:

  • They left with a positive impression about modern dairy farms (80 percent)
  • Farmers using new technology (63 percent)
  • Farmers doing a good job caring for their animals (61 percent)
  • Farmers providing good housing for dairy animals (51 percent)
  • Farmers caring for the environment (29 percent)
  • Safeguards for handling milk before it leaves the farm (46 percent)

A minority of participants (7 percent) reported they left a BOTF event with concerns.

The BOTF online survey of 228 households represents 4 percent of the households attending BOTFs in 2012. Table 1 lists the results of extending this sample to all 5,653 BOTF households. The 2012 participants are estimated to have shared their BOTF experience with nearly 122,000 individuals.

Table 1. Number of individuals with whom BOTF participants shared their farm tour experience.

 

Online Survey

(Individuals)

 2012 Estimates Extended from Survey Sample

Category of people

  No.

 percent

Family members

1,133

23%

28,079

Friends

1,178

24%

29,207

Friends on social media (that are not included in friends)

650

13%

16,104

Other parents (that are not included in friends)

477

10%

11,814

Co-workers (that are not included in friends)

670

14%

16,612

Individuals on social media (that are not included in friends)

336

7%

8,331

Other individuals

477

10%

11,814

TOTAL

4,919

 

121,961

 

Participants purchased more dairy products

 Figure 1 shows the distribution of the 47 households (19 percent of 244) that reported increased purchases of at least one of three dairy products as a result of attending a Breakfast on the Farm event. The largest number of households increased purchases by one gallon of milk, .5 pounds of cheese and 2.5 units of yogurt per week. These increases translate to average household increases per week of 0.2 gallons of milk, 0.2 lbs. of cheese and 0.33 units of yogurt for all households that attended BOTF. Extending these weekly increases to the estimated 5,653 households, the annual value for milk, cheese and yogurt total $404,340 in additional retail sales for households attending BOTF in 2012.

Consumers want to know that farmers will do the right thing. They greatly appreciate the opportunity that Breakfast on the Farm provides to tour modern farms. Since farm tours provide transparency, they build trust. As participants are excited about what they have learned, they return home and share their experience with family, friends and others. In addition, their improved trust or understanding in how milk is produced and handled apparently results in increases in dairy product purchases as consumers are most concerned by factors that affect them and their families directly, such as milk safety. 



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