Super Bowl Ad Sparks Interest in the Role of Farmers Today

Besides the rare opportunity to see the Ravens win, the Super Bowl is always worth watching because you never know what you’re going to see. For me the highlight of the night wasn’t the Ravens, or even the Destiny’s Child reunion. I was most surprised by the Dodge commercial which made use of a speech, originally delivered by Paul Harvey in 1978 to the Future Farmers of America (FFA). If you didn’t catch it, play the video below.


It’s a romantic view of farmers, but still it resonates with me. I grew up around farmers and the FFA and I don’t believe there’s a more important vocation on the planet. Farmers carry a lot of responsibilities, looking after the land, feeding their own families, and also producing food for the world. As I watched, I wondered why Dodge chose the Super Bowl to deliver that message of appreciation to farmers.

Maybe it was a show of solidarity after a hard year. First, there was the 2012 drought, one of the worst in recent history. Then, the House of Representatives and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) let farmers down everywhere when they dropped the ball and failed to get a five-year farm bill on the floor.

But for me the Super Bowl commercial evoked an important question: What is the most important role of farmers in our society? It has always been my belief that one of the most important duties is farming the land in a way that protects the earth, and maintains natural resources for the next generation. Liberty Hyde Bailey, a Michigan farmer’s son and agrarian philosopher who lived over a hundred years ago, put it this way:

“We shall conceive of the earth, which is the common habitation, as inviolable. One does not act rightly toward one’s fellows if one does not know how to act rightly toward the earth.” – Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Holy Earth, 1915

Most of the lifelong farmers that I know share Bailey’s views. However, high crop prices, combined with farm subsidies have created a situation that removes the natural risks of farming.  As a result, some farmers are draining wetlands, and grasslands are being plowed up in the Prairie Pothole Region and Great Plains.

We need farmers, and we need to help support farmers as they provide food for the world, while still promoting good stewardship of the land. Two things need to happen in 2013:

  1. Congress needs to pass a farm bill.
  2. The farm bill must contain a conservation compliance provision and a Sodsaver provision.  This will close the loophole that eliminates natural risks and rewards bad practices.

Please consider writing personally to your Senator and Congressional Representative about this issue, and let s/he know that this is an important issue to you, and why.