“Give a thought to farmers, they’re thinking about you.”

That sentence is the tie-in to all print and radio ads that the Minnesota Corn Growers Association is running throughout the state. It’s an example of a job well done, and one that’s worth noting beyond Minnesota’s borders.

How many times have you said, or heard someone say, “agriculture needs to bond together for the good of the whole.” I believe the desire has existed, but agriculture’s segmentation and special interests have tempered that unity.

In a series of print and radio ads, MCGA isn’t promoting Minnesota corn – or even U.S. corn – it’s promoting agriculture.

For example, MCGA’s four different print ads showcase real farmers in real settings with headlines like: “A spouse, three kids, a dog and 124 other mouths to feed.”

The ad continues: “Here’s something to think about next time you’re browsing the aisle of the grocery store – the average Minnesota farm keeps 128 people fed for a year. So somewhere out there, a farmer is working hard, just like you to help keep your family fed….”

Those ads have run in Twin City newspapers, as well as communities throughout the state.

It was the radio ads that caught my attention during a January drive through Minneapolis. The tone was friendly and factual. Here’s a snipet.

“Imagine for the next 60 seconds that you’re a farmer... The water your family drinks comes from a well that’s under your acreage. Your family’s livelihood depends on maintaining healthy soil. You hold yourself to high environmental standards…So what do you say when people tell you your farming practices aren’t good for the environment?

While you think about it, remember these are the kinds of perceptions that farmers face everyday, yet they proudly rise to the challenge of providing Minnesota with a healthy, abundant supply of food and energy, and strengthen our economy….”

MCGA’s campaign is not the answer     to all of agriculture’s woes, but it’s a     solid start in educating the public.            (Go to www.farming101.org  to see or  hear the ads.)

Certainly there have been other programs in other states or presented by other agricultural groups that deserve an equal pat on the back. I’ve singled out MCGA only because it caught my attention and struck a positive cord.

This summer, the National Corn Growers Association, the Animal Agriculture Alliance and other industry groups, will launch a program to educate U.S. consumers, retailers, foodservice entities and school children about animal production “from farm to table.” 

A survey will evaluate consumers’ opinions about their food – how it is raised and handled. The group will develop a “Myths and Facts” brochure, to help people understand more about how their food is produced.

The corn growers depend on healthy U.S. livestock and poultry sectors, which consume 60 percent of their raw product, and as much as 80 percent if you include byproducts like distiller’s dried grains.

“There’s a need for agriculture to stay together on this very important issue of feeding the world…to get agriculture to work as a unit on common problems,” says Tracy Snider, livestock program director for NCGA. “It’s also important that consumers are educated with science-based facts instead of emotion-based information.” 

It’s no secret that only 2 percent of the U.S. public are associated with production agriculture. It’s also no secret that there’s a cavernous knowledge gap between the folks who produce food and fiber, and those who purchase food and fiber. 

One in six U.S. jobs is dependent on agriculture. I’m betting there’s not one in six people who would know that little tidbit.

With programs like MCGA’s and others, hopefully more U.S. consumers will get the message.