It’s not every day a major corporation announces it is investing in the future of farming. Yet that’s just what Culver’s has done. A new campaign the restaurant is calling “Thank You, Farmers” kicked off this month. As part of the campaign, participating Culver’s restaurants across the nation have pledged to donate a percentage of their sales to local chapters of the FFA Organization. They also are initiating a guest donation program and event sponsorships toward the same end: supporting the next generation of farmers. Finally, the campaign features increased education about the chain’s farm suppliers, helping remind customers that there are faces behind the ingredients. Visitors to the chain’s Facebook page can write a brief thank you note to a farmer, and Culver’s will give $1 for each note up to $50,000 to the FFA.

"Culver's is proud to call the dairy land of Wisconsin home," says Craig Culver, CEO and co-founder of Culver's. "Coming from a place connected to the farms that produce the dairy and grow the food that's made the restaurant what it is, celebrating and supporting the farmers just feels right."

Yes, I realize this campaign has been launched in part to make me feel good about Culver’s. But it rings true for this former Wisconsin girl: Over the years, Culver’s has carefully aligned its brand with dairy and its values, from its blue and white logo to its “ButterBurgers” and custard. Even the design of its restaurants and staff uniforms harken back to simpler times — to fundamentals, one might say. And nothing is more fundamental than the hard work that dairy farmers do day in and day out.

I recently drove through much of the middle section of the country, having traveled from Montana to Iowa and back to attend a conference. I knew I was back in America’s Dairyland when the Culver’s signs started popping up. I loved living in the Midwest, and as I wrote my thank you note to farmers via the Culver’s Facebook page, I realized Culver’s is part of what I miss about it. I can’t think of another corporation that has endeared itself to me that way.