You’ve agreed to host visitors. Now what?
Monday, April 2, 2018
Posted by: Joanna Wavrunek, digital communications manager
By Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
By visiting a dairy farm, customers can see firsthand the care given to animals. The experience will make them more confident in purchasing dairy products to feed their family and more understanding of the hard-working dairy farm families.
As a farmer, you’ve heard that it is important to tell your story, but it is often difficult to connect with customers if they haven’t visited a farm. Research shows that consumers trust farmers about food and food production more than any other profession, even more than doctors. Opening your farm to visitors is an excellent opportunity to have an impact on improving their knowledge about dairy, and increasing their trust that milk and other dairy foods are safe to eat and are from animals that receive great care.
Preparing for guests
Whether hosting individuals, small groups or opening your farm for a large event like a Breakfast on the Farm, you need to prepare.
Know the details of those attending as best you can so you can tailor your messages and tour stops to deliver the best farm tour. These details include:
- How many people and where are they from?
- What are the ages of those attending?
- What do they want to see and learn?
- Have they been on a farm before?
- Who else needs to be involved?
The way you talk about the farm with each group will be different depending on their background.
Planning the tour
A few weeks before the tour, walk through your farm as if you were seeing it for the first time. Try to look at it from a visitor’s viewpoint. Take notice of any areas that would be unsafe and exclude those from the tour. Clean up any debris that would detract from the image you want for your farm.
Points to include about your farm:
- History: How many years the farm has been in your family or how many generations of your family have been farmers.
- Farm goals: An overview of your farm’s mission statement.
Key words to include:
- Care or commitment.
- Making a difference in the community.
- Respect for the animals, land and water.
- Trust given to you by consumers to produce safe and healthy food.
Now that your farm is ready, what about you? What will you say? Your visitors want to hear your story so prepare your introduction.
Always keep in mind that your visitors aren’t as knowledgeable about dairy farms and won’t know industry jargon. It’s doubtful they would even know the difference between a Holstein and a Jersey, or a dairy cow or beef cow. Keep your messages simple and consider reviewing consumer-tested key messages to help tell your story. Above all, stay positive and let your enthusiasm and passion show through.
On wmmb.com visit the Dairy Promotion page and select Farm Tours. Farmers will find a resource guide as well as a place to order materials and handouts for farm tour guests. These are provided by checkoff funds and are free to Wisconsin dairy farmers.
Use the resources from your state and national checkoff organizations to help you best answer customer questions about what they see on your farm. These resources cover questions from raising calves to keeping cows healthy and even more difficult topics such as hormones and antibiotics.
Additional sources of information can be found at National Dairy Council, which is the nutrition research, education and communications arm of national checkoff; and at Dairy Good, a great resource for consumers looking for more information about dairy farm families and the food they work to produce.
As you prepare, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board or Dairy Business Association to assist you with your farm tour needs.
Where to find help: