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Look for ‘The Year of the Farmer’ at Farm Progress Show

The Illinois Farm Families coalition is celebrating Illinois farmers this year, hoping to move the needle on corporate farming myths.

Betty Haynes

August 15, 2023

3 Min Read
A camera crew capturing video and photo of a family on a rural road at sunset
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: A camera crew shoots photo and video footage of a farm family for The Year of the Farmer campaign.Courtesy of Lindsay Mitchell

The Illinois Farm Families coalition has coined 2023 as “The Year of the Farmer” to show appreciation for all that Illinois farmers have endured the past several years.

“You think about just where farmers are as far as production with what the economy looks like, uncertainty with a variety of things, everybody coming out of the pandemic — it all affects agriculture so specifically,” says Gracie Pierson, consumer engagement manager for Illinois Farm Bureau.

Pierson is a member of the IFF coalition on behalf of Illinois Farm Bureau, along with representatives from the Illinois Beef Association, IL Corn, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Midwest Dairy.

The campaign is focused on communicating that 96% of Illinois farms are family-owned and operated. In 2021, IFF funded a study to better understand how to direct post-pandemic consumer engagement.

“Our research found that consumers believe 47% of Illinois farms are family-owned and that 53% are corporately owned,” Pierson says. “I hope we can move that needle to more than half, and I would love someday for them to believe that at least 90% of Illinois farms are family-owned.”

The goal of IFF is to build consumer trust in the food system by connecting consumers with Illinois farmers.

“When people hear that 96% of Illinois farms are family-owned, then they’re no longer as concerned about a lot of our management techniques,” says Lindsay Mitchell, director of communications at IL Corn and IFF coalition representative. “Consumers trust families; they understand families. They assume that families have the same values that they do, and they’re willing to give us a little bit of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to management practices.”

The Year of the Farmer campaign kicked off with a Super Bowl ad resulting in:

  • 570,000 broadcast TV impressions across five Illinois markets on Super Bowl Sunday

  • 3.4 million digital impressions, including digital ads, YouTube, streaming TV and social media

  • nearly 19 million reach through earned news placements

The Year of the Farmer programming has continued throughout the summer featuring different TV, print, radio, digital and social ads. The campaign varies from traditional IFF programming, because the target demographic is downstate Illinois, rather than Chicago millennial parents, so that farmers can see the content.

Farmers from across the state are represented — plus the variety of commodities grown and raised in Illinois. More than 30 families are featured in the project.

“We’ve tried to pick a really diverse set of farm families across the state,” Mitchell says. “I hope Illinois farmers can see themselves in this video and that it’s an opportunity for all farmers across the state to stand together.”

IFF hopes to help farmers see themselves as an integral part of the state and for consumers to notice the contributions farmers make to the food supply.

“I want the campaign to help Illinois farmers feel good about their legacy, what they came from and what they’re laying down for the future,” Mitchell says. “I also hope the campaign helps non-farmers and influential people across the state feel differently about agriculture and ask questions.”

More information will be at the Farm Progress Show booths for the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois corn and soybean associations. The 2023 Farm Progress Show is Aug. 29-31. Learn more at FarmProgressShow.com.

About the Author(s)

Betty Haynes

Betty Haynes and her husband, Dan, raise corn, soybeans and cattle with her family near Oakford, Ill., and are parents to Clare. Haynes grew up on a Menard County, Ill., farm and graduated from the University of Missouri. Most recently, she was associate editor of Prairie Farmer. Before that, she worked for the Illinois Beef Association, entirely managing and editing its publication.

Haynes won the Emerging Photographer Award from the Ag Communicators Network during the 2022 Ag Media Summit. At the 2023 AMS, she was named a Master Writer and winner of the Andy Markwart Horizon Award.

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