Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day + Husker Bling + Ag Advocacy = A Love Thing!

Happy Valentine's Day 2013!  

A year ago today, I shared in my Valentine's Day blog that the founder of Hallmark Cards,  Joyce C. (J.C.) Hall, an 18-year-old entrepreneur from Nebraskawho first started the Norfolk Post Card Company, moved the entire business to Kansas City, Mo., in 1908, in no more than two shoe boxes. By 1913, Hall and his brothers were operating Hall's department store, selling postcards and greeting cards and in 1928, he marketed the cards under the "Hallmark" brand name. 

At a time when advertising was considered a waste of money, Hall began creating and placing ads and soon established Hallmark as the most recognizable brand name in the industry. Today, some may refer to Valentine's Day as a "Hallmark Holiday", or one that primarily exists for commercial purposes, rather than a holiday simply set aside to celebrate the loved ones in our life.

  I happen to think that Mr. Hall was just one smart Nebraska kid! But I digress....

Fast forward 100 years to 2013, the Hallmark Card company still calls Kansas City home and the "BBQ Capital of the World" now attracts some of this nation's largest agriculture conventions and shows.

I recently attended the AG CONNECT Expo and Summit, a global trade show that features the latest innovations and technologies in agribusiness products and services. Along with my co-national executive coordinator and filmmaker/producer of the Great American Wheat Harvest (GAWH) documentary film, we hosted a V.I.P. Breakfast Reception, where our sponsors and custom harvester "rockstars" had a chance to speak about their participation in the film to other attendees:

Barry Nelson, manager of media relations for John Deere Ag and Turf Division, addresses Great American Wheat Harvest V.I.P. breakfast reception attendees.

 We debuted our NEW trailer:

and attended many coinciding functions of the U.S. Custom Harvesters national convention including a concert of the Canadian-born, now U.S.-residing country music group, High Valley:
From L to R: GAWH National Executive Coordinators, Melody Dobson and Jody Lamp; High Valley lead singer, Brad Rempel; GAWH filmmaker and producer, Conrad Weaver; High Valley's Curtis and Bryan Rempel.

And on the eighth day, God made a ......... 

While many, okay..... a few..... of my passions in life, including my faith, family and career, go beyond my love for my Nebraska Huskers, I was pleasantly surprised the week after returning from Ag Connect that wearing my Husker "bling" to my podiatrist appointment would incite an agriculture advocacy conversation.  

Sidebar: Amongst other things....20+ years of choosing "style" over "sensibility" in the shoe department has done a number of my wheels....I will eventually need a complete overhaul! But I digress.....

It was just a few days after the Dodge Ram,  "So, God Made A Farmer" commercial aired during the Super Bowl. Even in your own living room, you could sense that like you, the entire viewing audience must have stopped.....took pause.....and listened again to that famous radio voice of  Paul Harvey's, say...."So God Made A Farmer."

"So, you like football?" my podiatrist asked, upon noticing my jewelry. "I see you like the Huskers. Did you watch the Super Bowl?"

"Yes, I do and yes, I did!" I answered. "But I didn't watch the Super Bowl for the teams that played...I watched for the commercials."

My podiatrist ensued with barrage of  comments:

"Oh! Did you see that 'So, God Made A Farmer commercial?!

"Wasn't that awesome!

I talked to a friend of mine and told him, 'Can you believe that there are people watching this commercial right now, who don't even realize where their food comes from.'"

"Yes, I know," I said. "Hard to believe...but it's true!"

Dodge agreed to donate up to $1 million to the FFA Foundation based on its YouTube views. In less than five days, the video surpassed 10 million views, allowing Dodge to donate the full $1 million.

A Love Thing

I love all of agriculture....from the farmers that grow our grains and vegetables to the ranchers that raise our protein. I'm fortunate to have grown up in a state and live in a part of the country now where I am still amongst those who have a direct connection to those who produce and harvest their foods. As I travel and continue to build my social media presence, I know and become increasingly aware of the disconnect that continues to separate the urban vs. rural, ag vs. non-ag, city vs. rural, organic vs.'s beyond alarming to hear our U.S. President and Secretary of Agriculture talk about the possibility of sequestration and across the board budget cuts, that would include furloughs of necessary USDA inspectors to ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is correctly labeled and packaged.

The furloughs would force meat and poultry plants to close during that time. As the largest component of the U.S. agricultural economy, closing the meat and poultry businesses as contemplated by the Secretary would, according to USDA, cause production losses of $10 billion, cost company employees more than $400 million in lost wages, and impose untold losses on the more than one million livestock and poultry producers in this country. In a letter from J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute, Boyle sites these facts and asks President Obama in the event of sequestration, that the USDA meat and poultry inspectors not be furloughed so that the Secretary of Agriculture can fulfill his statutory obligations.

I know I may never have an audience as large as the State of Union or Super Bowl viewing public, but what I do know, is that even through my career as a pr/marketing professional, I can be an ambassador for agriculture and part of collective voice of truth for the industry.  

Through groups like the American Agri- Women (member of both the Western Nebraska and Montana Agri-Women);  the National Agri-Marketing Association (a proud NEW member of the Cornhusker Chapter) and projects like the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film.....I can do what I love....advocate for agriculture....and end my work days knowing that my talents and abilities were used to help share information to increase knowledge for generations to come.