Although she grew up on a dairy farm, Kim Bremmer never imagined she would become an ag-vocate or that she would do anything related to farming. But while attending the University of Wisconsin, she got a job milking cows at a research farm and worked 15 years as a dairy nutritionist.
She then became involved with Common Ground, a national movement of farm women who share information about farming and the food they grow. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I realized so many moms out there were confused about what to feed their kids. They want healthy food, but with the marketing out there, they were thinking organic was the only way to go,” said Bremmer, the state coordinator for Common Ground in Wisconsin and owner of Ag Inspirations. “I realized there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there. People are four generations removed from the farm and do not understand how food is produced.”
With Common Ground, Bremmer attends a variety of non-agriculture events where she and others answer questions related to food. “I met so many moms who buy organic food for their kids, but because of the cost eat conventionally grown food themselves,” she said. “They’ve bought into the marketing gimmick that organic is always better.”
Beyond educating people on behalf of Common Ground at different events, Bremmer has a radio show, blogs, is active on social media and speaks to ag organizations. Bremmer’s radio show, Ag Inspirations, is aired online and through Loos Tales on more than 100 stations nationwide and she uses the program as a way to help farmers share their stories.
“So many people have this sad, nostalgic feeling about farming and are upset about the GMOs and antibiotics being used on today’s farms, so I do a lot of myth busting and tell people what’s true and what’s not,” she said.
Bremmer also encourages farmers to reach out and connect with consumers as well. “We can’t let consumers forget that farmers know best,” she said. “I’m not out there promoting small vs. big farms or organic vs. conventional farms – I believe the diversity of farming is our strength. I just don’t want consumers misled.”
Sustainability is a word used a lot in farming and Bremmer pointed out that today’s farmers are producing more food than ever before thanks to continued improvements being made in agriculture.
“Farmers are doing so much to improve productivity and it is through things such as using cover crops or providing specialized nutrition to animals,” she said. “We can’t get mad at consumers since they get most of their information about agriculture from marketing or social media. That’s why it is important for farmers to be focal about what they do.”
Bremmer, who was named the UW-Madison Association of Women in Agriculture’s 2014 Outstanding Woman in Agriculture, said it is also important for ag supporters to confront those who discredit what they do. In September, she attended the 2016 Factory Farm Summit, and came away with a stronger commitment to speak up for farmers.
“For far too long, I think farmers ignored some of these groups believing that consumers would realize they were wrong, but that has not happened,” Bremmer said. “We need to speak up about what we are doing right and fight back against these groups that try to paint farming in a bad light.”
For example, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project Regional Representative, which hosted the Factory Farm Summit, offered a bus tour of CAFOs around the Green Bay area. Bremmer was surprised that all they did was do a “drive by and every one of those farms looked great. There was nothing to be ashamed of. I thought we would get to go on a real tour and see what the farms were like on the inside. How can they criticize when they don’t see what is going on?”
Bremmer knows farmers are busy, but still hopes they can take the time to share with others about what they do on their farms whether it is via social media or in person. “Everyone in agriculture needs to speak up and amplify the message about all of the good things happening on farms today,” she said.
For more on Bremmer’s work, visit www.aginspirations.com.