Agvocating Everyday

This week in Plant Pathology 123, a class I am taking at the UW for biological science credit, we spent some of the lecture watching a clip from the movie Food Inc. I attend this lecture with three of my fellow sisters in the Association of Women in Agriculture. We are all passionate about agriculture and feeding the world. As the videos played we endured Michael Pollan talking about animals being knee deep in manure, the spread of E. Coli on farms and carcasses going to slaughter covered in manure. Taylor, Emily, Jaime and I sat in disbelief, as we have all seen the movie, but we were shocked that it was being shown in this class. We all know that the farms some of us own and others of us have visited, animals are not treated inhumanely and aren’t covered in manure. We were appalled. Instead of just leaving the class frustrated, which we did anyway, Taylor and I decided to take a stance. My good friend Taylor grew up on her family’s 850 cow dairy farm in Watertown, Wisconsin, Rosy Lane Holsteins. Taylor and I sent our professor a lengthy email with resources that share the true story of agriculture. Our email to our professor went as follows:

Dr. Rakatondrafara,

My name is Taylor Holterman and I am in your Plant Pathology 123 class. I would like to share the following information, articles and resources with you because I am from a farming background, and what I saw in the videos shown today and during the guest lecture on Monday were not representative of what I believe agriculture to be.

I was raised on a dairy farm one hour East of Madison near Watertown, Wis. I was active in 4-H for 12 years showing dairy cattle as well as beef and sheep for a few years. I was also an FFA member for five years expanding my knowledge of the industry through a “Supervised Agricultural Experience.” My senior year of high school, I won the Wisconsin State FFA Dairy Entrepreneurship Proficiency for the herd of 18 dairy cattle I own, which are housed on my parent’s farm. My parents started with 70 milking cows and today have 850 as well as two business partners and approximately 20 full-time employees. This type of farm today is classified as a “factory” farm as well as CAFO, however what the video portrayed in class today was nothing like it is on our farm nor other farms I have been on. Everyone I know takes care of their animals to the highest standards; there are no snow-days or holidays on a farm.

On every farm I have been including dairy farms in Georgia, Florida, England, Germany and Bulgaria, as well as on our own, animals are treated humanely and cared for 24/7. I would like to invite you to talk with me more on this subject, as well as view the following resources. First off, I would like to ask you to watch this video of my mom, Daphne Holterman. She was selected last year as a Finalist for the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance “Faces of Farming and Ranching” Competition. This is the video created by them: Also, in 2009, she was selected as World Dairy Expo’s Dairy Woman of the Year. You can probably tell her passion for agriculture and animals was instilled in me!

Another video and article about my parent’s and our family:

Our farm’s Facebook page: On pages 10-11, my mom is featured here talking about what she does.

Video from a blogger “Dairy Carrie” – her site also has great articles and other resources as well. This video made some news outlets in the agricultural industry and stood out to me.

United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Food Dialogues – a great conversation about farming and where our food comes from

My friend, Kate Griswold, who is also in Plant Pathology 123 with me saw the videos in class today as well. Kate grew up on her families’ hobby farm just West of Madison, Wisconsin in Black Earth and both her parents work in the dairy industry. She has grown up being involved with 4-H and FFA and showed beef cattle, sheep, hogs and poultry. Although Kate didn’t grow up on a large farm, she has been exposed to a wide range of agricultural production methods and visited a number of farms. Neither Kate or I believe the videos shown in class were representative of agriculture or the way farmers treat their animals.

I would be happy if you shared this with the class because there are definitely two sides to this story. Negative media like ideas from Michael Pollan are only showing one side of the story.

If you have any more questions or would even like to visit our farm, please let me know. I am happy to share all of my knowledge as well as my family’s farm. I love sharing what great things our farm does. As my mom says, “Our farm is open to anyone with an open mind.”

Thank you for your time,


We need to share our stories. Sometimes it is as simple as sending an email with additional resources like we did. People continue to mistrust agriculture because of the things people far removed from the topic say. It is our responsibility to continue to share the truth. Throughout the day today this email has had multiple shares and has plastered many facebook walls. I am sad to say that we haven’t heard back from our professor at this point. I will keep you posted to any feedback she provides us or shares with our class.


One thought on “Agvocating Everyday

  1. Taylor,
    I commend you for your actions. I think it is great that you voiced your opinion to your professor. Most people would not have done that. Also, people with no experience with dairy cattle would possibly not know the “other side of the story”. I see different topics like this being misled every day in agriculture. That’s why I think it is important for those of us who have personal hands on experience to tell our stories and opinions. I hope you hear back from your professor soon.
    -Angela Crase

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