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Selz-Pralle helps consumers understand agriculture

Selz-Pralle helps consumers understand agriculture
She is an ag advocate with CommonGround.

Pam Selz-Pralle and her husband, Scott Pralle, operate Selz-Pralle Dairy in Humbird. Never settling for "good enough" at Selz-Pralle Dairy has led to an elite 106 pounds of milk per cow per day average on the 400-cow dairy. Their goal for the future is to rank in the top 2% of producers nationally for milk production with a 120-pound per cow per day average with a 4% fat test. An attitude toward never settling for less than the best has been passed down to their three children as well.

The Pralle children, from left, Nicole, Jessica and Ryan, are all students at UW-Madison pursuing degrees in dairy science and animal nutrition. Pam Selz-Pralle enjoys sharing agriculture's story with consumers.

 "Being typical farm kids, our children grew up seeing us work and began their involvement on the dairy at an early age," said Pam. "What I treasure most is working alongside my children and teaching them responsibility, the consequences of doing a poor job, the honor of hard work, pride in doing your best, and reaching for the stars. Farm life inherently teaches life skills that will make them better people."

Those early experiences have continued to shape all three of the Pralle children, as they have taken up higher education in the dairy field. The oldest, Ryan, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in dairy science and has begun working on a PhD in animal nutrition. Jessica, a junior, and Nicole, an incoming freshman, are both pursuing degrees in dairy science at UW-Madison as well.

Being in tune with the dairy industry, Pam had noticed the increasing scrutiny toward the agricultural community. Advocacy has become a topic of great discussion in the agricultural community.

 "You don't need movie cameras, a blog or social media to be an agricultural advocate," says Pam.

One of Pam's latest endeavors has been her involvement with CommonGround, an organization focused on creating mom-to-mom conversations about food choices and agriculture. Mothers involved in farming can volunteer to become engaged with the work of CommonGround.

"Women are typically making a lot of food choices for their households," states Pam. "We want to give that consumer a face of agriculture to connect to. The conversations we create with consumers are based on the personal experiences we have as farmers, but also on science and research."

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"Many in the media have claimed to be experts on food and how it is grown, they are telling consumers a different story than reality," said Pam. "We live in a time when opinions trump peer-reviewed science every day. Labeling of products has come at the expense of the consumer's trust in agriculture. Organic, natural, GMO-free, gluten-free, rBst-free, cage-free, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised and responsibly produced are viewed as superior while conventional foods must be a lesser option. The story of agriculture is being told by people selling stories, not by those actually involved in agriculture."

As Pam continues her agricultural advocacy work, she is piloting an Adopt-A-Calf program with two area elementary schools in their fourth grade classes. Prior to the calves' birth, Pam will visit with the class. Periodically, she will report back to the class on the progress and development their calf is experiencing.

"You don't have to blog or have media contacts to make an impact," said Pam. "The most powerful impression you can make is through a simple conversation and sharing your personal story with a consumer. Next time that individual is making a decision at the grocery store, they will pause and think back to the experience they had meeting a real farmer. CommonGround provides the materials and resources necessary to help start that conversation."

For more information about CommonGround, go to www.findourcommonground.com.

Giebel lives in Baraboo.

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