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.