AFAC Awards: East Olds Dairy Farmers group takes charge on communications

It’s no secret people across agriculture are being asked to play a role in telling their story and helping to build positive relationships with the public and consumers. One group that has taken charge of doing just that is the East Olds Dairy Farmers group, which was presented with the Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) Award of Distinction for Communications at the Livestock Care Conference in Olds, Alta., March 14-15, 2018.

Six years ago the East Olds Dairy Farmers group, which is made up of several dairy farm families, developed the idea to host a breakfast for their community to help the public learn about what dairy farmers do. With the support of the Southern Alberta Holstein Club and Alberta Milk the first Breakfast on the Dairy Farm event was delivered in 2013 drawing 348 people to a single location. The initiative has carried on as an annual series, expanding to two locations hosting over 1,000 people each year. It provides an opportunity for members of the public to connect with farmers and experience first-hand what life on a dairy farm is all about.

Breakfast on the Dairy Farm initiative

Plans are underway to add a third location for a northern event for 2018. Since the first year, the events have reached over 3,400 consumers with the support of 350 volunteers. “Good communication is one of the most important things in life,” says Arie Van den Broek, a milk producer involved in the project since its inception. “We as producers like to show where the milk comes from, how we take care of our animals and our neighbours. ‘Open that farm gate and let people come in’—that’s what we always say.”

This event has gone a long way to help build trust with consumers, says Lorrie Jespersen, an Alberta Milk board director who presented the award. “Social licence needs to be earned. This event has been executed impeccably through authentic conversations, experiences and answering questions honestly and factually to ensure the integrity of dairy farmers and farming in general remains intact.”

More information on the Livestock Care Conference is available on the AFAC website, at www.afac.ab.ca, including photos and blog items.