Sunday, January 3, 2016

It's Bigger than Stanford's band, America Needs Farmers

The Stanford marching band continued their tradition of taunting opponents for the third straight Rose Bowl.  I’m proud of the Hawkeye fans that found this to be a classless depiction of the backbone of our state.  There have been several stories, tweets, posts, and blogs calling out the band for the performance.  I have become less concerned about the childish mocking and more concerned on the underlying perception there is about the lack of sophistication of farmers. 

With all the available social media where we can see which sandwich a Hollywood star ate for lunch the  “smart” students at Stanford have no clue what goes on in American agriculture or even their state.   For instance, California is number one state in the nation when it comes to the value of agriculture products produced - bigger than Texas and yes, it’s bigger than Iowa.   That Holstein cow that was depicted in the band’s performance is better suited in California than Iowa or even Wisconsin since California is the nation’s top producing dairy state.  The half time debacle is a good example of the divide between the 2% of food growers on farms and the 98% of consumers who eat it.

Retired Iowa coach Hayden Fry could have never imagined how the America Needs Farmers “ANF” campaign he started in 1985 would have new meaning thirty years later.  Now the challenge is not about saving individual farmers from financial distress, but educating the vast majority of people that farmers are conscientious food producers.   America Needs Farmers and we will continue to use our resources to feed, fuel and clothe the masses as we have for generations.   This isn’t Green Acres, Little House on the Prairie, or even SimFarm anymore. 
Farmers need Americans to know that we utilize some of the greatest technology available to anyone, that it’s science based, and that the new technology helps us use less land, nutrients, water, and chemicals to feed the world.  Iowa farmers are adopting the newest, best technologies to grow crops and livestock for safe, wholesome food while protecting the environment and water. 

It’s inspiring to see Iowans unite around its farmers and the significance of our role in feeding the world.  We need to remain united in our resolve for Iowa’s food production when others attempt to split and divide us.  The challenge to all Hawkeyes, Cyclones, Panthers, and Iowans – don’t let this feeling of being disrespected by some classless students in California fade away in your memory without action.   If you are involved in farming or agriculture take it as a challenge to share your story and explain what you do, why you do it, and how it benefits consumers.  If you are an Iowa agriculture consumer take a few minutes to discover how your food is produced and what farmers are doing with science and technology.  Don’t be fooled by soundbites and cute catch phrases, or taunts from critics.  Food production is complex and farmers are increasingly resourceful.  Farmers shouldn’t have to be lonely, America needs us and we need them.

P.S. - There’s a great agriculture literacy program for elementary students in Iowa called Ag In The Classroom, I think I will share it with Stanford. 


  1. Great post, Brian! I agree. ..this situation (and your post) inspire me to share the good work of Iowa's farmers far and wide!

    1. Some of the brightest people in the world run successful farms. Why? Because you need to be well-versed in disciplines ranging from horticulture to veterinary medicine to be able to run a thriving farm that will be in a family for generations. Just think if we let all the lawyers, politicians and doctors, for example, be the ones to provide us with safe, self-sustaining and renewable food products that provide the human race with the nutrition our children need to be able to grow up to be lawyers, politicians and doctors. We'd have ceased to exist as a people a long time ago.

  2. Thank you Brian. This is a stigma I've struggled with my whole life. We are one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world. Yet we are perceived as country hicks. I'd like to see any one of the Stanford band attempt to drive a modern tractor. Let alone actually make it work properly.

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  4. Thank you Iowa. As a California farmer's wife...thank you for realizing that the Stanford band is not representing of all Californians...thankfully. We are more embarrassed of them then they could ever be of the "hicks" that provide their food, clothing, houses and many of their jobs!!!

  5. As a native of Los Angeles I can tell you this much: due to that band's predictably imbecilic skit, I am now aware of ANF and can read up on it to learn more about the current state of farming in America. My assumption, like many Californians, is that "traditional" farmers barely exist anymore. They have been pushed out of the business by corporate entities, whom many farmers now have to work for. Being a largely liberal state, we tend to view corporate farms as extremely sophisticated, but nefariously so. Maybe I can now find out how correct/incorrect my view is.
    Regarding the band, when they take their shots at my hometown in the middle of their annual UCLA Thrashing my friends and I act indifferently about it. Those little brats hate that most of all.