‘If you do not tell the story yourself, someone else will tell’

Bram Romme (21) from Etten-Leur is a third-year student in animal husbandry at HAS in Den Bosch. He will soon launch five explanatory videos on milk production on social media. “I want to tell the true story of the farmer.”

How did you come to this?

‘At HAS, I became a member of the student association Gremio Unio, which also includes non-farmers who study, for example, Environmental Science or Food Innovation. I noticed at the bar that they had a typical view of milk production. For example, our cows would eat a lot of soy. “How much do you think approximately?” I asked. ’50 percent ‘, was the answer.

Tell your own story: How healthy dairy products are and what a beautiful recycled animal the cow is

Bram Romme (21) third year student livestock farming

‘Every farmer knows that a cow that eats 50 percent soy gets diarrhea. I explained that every weekend I feed the cows at home and only put half a wheelbarrow in the feed mixer. A cow eats no more than 1.25 percent soy. The surprise was great. I then thought: how can I explain such things to all citizens at once without sitting at the bar with everyone separately? ‘

What did you come up with?

‘Creating simple and catchy explanatory videos for social media. At ZLTO I could pick this up as an internship. I got to work with PR specialists from ZLTO. We focus on the target group 18 to 28 years, the age at which you start living alone. Then you also go shopping yourself and choose oat milk or cow’s milk. That target audience is on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

‘We made four one minute videos plus an introductory video. If they are well received, we will definitely continue with them. The intention is that people not only hear their information from someone else, but also the real story of the farmer himself. ‘

Are you talking about the influence of vegetarians?

‘The image of the agricultural sector on social media is dominated by people with a vegetarian lifestyle. According to CBS, 5 percent of the population is vegetarian and 0.4 percent vegan. Less than 5 percent are farmers. The other 90 percent is the middle parenthesis, which mainly receives information from the vegetarian 5 percent. A small part of the population, but their influence is great.

“Therefore, it is now a matter of course that if you want to do something about the environment or the climate, then you eat less meat or take not a cappuccino with cow’s milk, but with oat milk. An ‘oat cappu’, as young Amsterdam ladies call it. ‘

You know your facts.

‘I use sources like the Agrifacts Foundation or the Dutch Dairy Organization. They study the benefits of animal products, but communicate them only to farmers, not citizens. The farmers themselves hardly communicate. Our story is not told.

‘I understand: Farmers are always busy at their jobs, and if you live in the countryside, you do not meet the hip Amsterdam ladies who think there are antibiotics in the milk.’

Antibiotics in the milk?

‘Recently, someone said our supermarket milk is full of antibiotics. So I grab my phone with the app for our milk deliveries: ‘Look, everything is checked, somatic cell count for udder health, antibiotics, because if it’s positive, we’ll have to pay a lot of fines to the dairy.’ The other just fell back: ‘Is there so much control?’ He thought the milk goes directly into the tanker and directly into the package.

‘As farmers, we sometimes complain that we have to comply with many rules, but they ensure the most food-safe production in the whole world. Still, consumers think the milk in the supermarket is full of antibiotics. It is too bizarre to say that farmers go so far as to produce such a safe and healthy product and that citizens think we are just producing feces. ‘

Is not it exhausting, always the criticism?

‘My father says,’ Bram, that discussion I would not want every time. Just make good milk and take care of the soil and the animals. ‘ Completely agree, but eventually I have the thought that I am obliged to answer, because otherwise it goes completely out of control.

‘If you do not tell the story yourself, someone else will tell it, and it will not be so positive for the farmers. If I want to keep doing what I like, I need a counter-vote. Otherwise it will no longer be possible in twenty years. I’m really scared of that. ‘

Why do you want to become a farmer in the future?

‘It’s so hard to describe. It’s really pure passion, ambition. Reluctantly, I walk into the living room or onto the tractor. It’s not a job, it’s a hobby. For me, one thing is certain in my life, and that is that I will become a farmer. ‘

What does your dream future look like?

‘My dream scenario is that I can become a farmer at home on the milk producer. If I have to make those movies to keep people drinking milk, then I do, I do not. I hope more people will tell our story. ‘

Because the citizen does not know the story?

‘The farmer makes sure that everything is in order, and especially in Holland a cow always has food, drink, veterinary care and a clean bunk. If you take good care of your animals, what’s so wrong with us milking cows and then eating the meat? If the farmers did not do that, everyone would spend all day picking berries and hunting a deer.

‘But because we produce food that is also cheap, citizens spend no more than an hour a day cooking and shopping, and they can do whatever they want for the rest of the day.

‘Food has become so obvious, but it’s actually a terrible luxury that it’s so freely available. I think that should be appreciated. So if you watch my videos, feel free to forward them. ‘

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