I saw a story a several years ago about the America Needs Farmers campaign launched by the University of Iowa in 1985. At the time, Iowa was ranked number one in college football, beat number two Michigan on a last-second field goal, and eventually ended up in the Rose Bowl – for Big 10 fans, the crown jewel of a season.
Half way through the season, however, Coach Hayden Fry realized there was a farm crisis going on all around him. According to a senior economist at the U.S. Federal Reserve, "more than one-third of America's commercial farmers were in grave financial trouble," states a University of Iowa website with a history of the concept. To fight back, he placed a small sticker that read ANF (America Needs Farmers) on the top of his players' helmets. The team wore that badge through the season and to the Rose Bowl game with a national T.V. audience on New Year's Day.
This year, as I was chowing down on food and watching football bowl games, I thought briefly how cool it would be if one of the "ag schools" paid respect to farmers. Of course, the "ag schools" as we know them are no longer mostly "ag." In 2011, Iowa (a "nonag" school) football paired with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to again promote the ANF campaign. They weren't number one in the country this year, but I thought it was a great tribute to our farmers. Nothing like some high-level recognition of America's hardest working people.
Then, I saw a note a few weeks ago that McDonald's was unveiling ads that portray the people behind their products. It seems that they, too, are hearing more questions about where even their food comes from. While I hope other large promoters jump on the "Let's show farmers in their best light" campaign, kudos to McDonald's for taking the first step. Below is the video; share it with your online friends! While it is beef, we hope a dairy version is released at some point. There are also potato and lettuce editions.