Mark Henderson made it clear during a recent exclusive interview for Indiana Prairie Farmer that it was no longer business as usual when it came to taking agriculture's message to consumers. He was way past nice-sounding platitudes and rhetoric. He conveyed the same message while speaking at the successful Indiana Ag Forum in January.
The executive director of the Indiana Marketing Council, Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association says it's time to use new techniques to get the job done. One of those efforts that the groups he works for supports, along with several other groups, including Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc., and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, is the www.farmersfeedus.org/in Web site.
Farmers Feed Us is a national program, so far either underway or already completed by five different states. Each state operates its own program, however. The goal is to get consumers to the site to meet real farmers and get a glimpse of what agriculture on the farm is truly about. The hook is a chance to win $5,000 worth of free groceries. It's dubbed 'free groceries for a year,' and was selected because the estimated amount of money Hoosiers spend on food over a year's time.
The site debuted January 11. Eight Indiana farmers volunteered to be filmed and participate in the project. By going to the site, you can tour the farm operation of each one of the eight. And you can register for free groceries. As the first month drew to a close, those associated with the compound found the numbers of visitors astounding.
More than 57,000 names were registered to win free groceries. Since you're allowed to register more than once, some of those could be duplicates. At any rate, it's still a huge number. And a sizable percentage of them are also asking for literature about agriculture be sent to their address.
Farmers who are on the Web through this project include Abby Nichols, Franklin, a beef cattle producer who is selling local freezer meat she produces; Adam Howell, a corn farmer from Middletown, Ind., Bob Bixler, an egg producer form Berne in northeast Indiana; and Brad Burbrink, a soybean farmer from Terre Haute.
Remaining farmers involved in the project and capture don the Website are: Heather Hill, a hog farmer from Hancock County, Michael Miller, a fish farmer from Albany, Nathan Kuehnert, a dairyman who farms with his family near Ft. Wayne; and Stan Poe II, Franklin. Poe and his family operate one of the largest commercial and breeding ewe flocks in Indiana.
If you haven't checked out the site yet, be sure to do so. Yes, you can register for free groceries! And be sure to tell your non-farm neighbors to visit and register as well. The campaign ends April 11. Plans call for the grocery prices to be awarded by early to mid-May.