On April 5th, 2017 Wisconsin Beef Council took 26 Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members on a Farm to Fork Tour in the Elkhart Lake area proceeding their two day annual conference. These dietitians work with consumers and clients across the state in guiding them with their dietary decisions. It is important to Wisconsin’s beef industry that these influential individuals practice implementing beef into a well-balanced diet as well as educate their clients of the benefits of beef.
Before we start the tours, we administer pre-tour survey to understand our audience’s knowledge and understanding of the beef industry and its producers. Based on the pre-tour survey, the WAND participants had very little knowledge of the beef industry and were not very comfortable talking about the benefits of beef in the diet with friends, family or even their clients. When ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 (1= less knowledgeable, 5= more knowledgeable) of the beef industry, 76% of the attendees rated themselves at a 3 or below correlating with very little knowledge with the beef industry. When asked, “How would you describe your feelings towards beef producers?” attendees responded with comments such as “Organic is better tasting.” and “We should chose healthier options.” Based on these responses, we knew we had a lot of ground to cover in a short day but we were excited to take on the challenge.
Our first stop, Majestic Crossing Dairy in Sheboygan Falls, was a truly immersive experience filled with great questions for Dean Strauss before we even got off the bus. Topics like antibiotics, animal care and environmental protection were discussed. Participants were able to walk through the milking parlor during a milking cycle, browse the freestall barn and really get an inside look at the day of a dairy cow.
The second stop of the day was at Riveredge Farms in Chilton, operated by Luke and Leon Geiser. Riveredge Farms described their unique operation and explained how their family plans to continue to raise beef cattle and improve in future generations. The attendee’s loved listening to Luke and Leon’s stories about moving cattle across the road with nothing but a bucket and how they continue to stay involved in their community to spread the beef story.
Our final stop of the tour was right down the road at Wunrow Farms, a feedyard operation utilizing dairy steers instead of traditional colored beef cattle. Jeff Wunrow talked about how important it is to feed the cattle a balanced diet and ensure they are receiving all of the nutrients necessary at that point in their life. This topic really hit home with the attendees as they promote balanced diets with their clients every day.
After the tours conclude, we administer a post-tour survey to measure the change in attendees’ perception and attitudes about the beef industry. The post survey reported 84% of the attendees felt they were somewhat knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about the industry and felt comfortable sharing their knowledge with others. All 26 attendees said they would share their experience with others and said it was beneficial to actually get to talk to a producer instead of reading something online.