Jolley: So God made a farmer

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A few sweeping statements:

  1. Throughout the history of agricultural advertising, there has never been a commercial with as much impact as Dodge’s Super Bowl spot.
  2. The major advertisers in ag magazines and farm broadcasting have just witnessed a Ph.D. course in how to communicate with their audience.
  3. “So God Made a Farmer” will outlast Apple’s famed 1984 ad that began the tradition of great Super Bowl advertising.

Ray Bowman, I respect your conservative point of view on things but your editorial on your The Farmer Feeds Us All blog comment “Many liberal voices are rising to decry the spot as commercial pandering and emotional manipulation” seriously detracts from the discussion and I know very few liberals who would agree with you.  Let’s not lump organizations like HSUS and PETA under the liberal banner.  We don’t want them hanging around our tent, either.

Dodge Trent Loos on Facebook pointed out that Paul Harvey, the radio personality who did the voice over, was tainted late in life by a curious romance with animal rights groups.  It's a sad fact about a man who spent much of his life as an advocate of agriculture, but a non-issue when it comes to the impact of the commercial. 

Andy Vance’s editorial on his 11 Warriors blog was spot on and the responses from his readers showed how much impact the commercial had on both ag and non-ag folks.  For the two people in production agriculture and the millions of people who live in the big cities who haven’t seen it, here is the Youtube link.

Here is what Dodge accomplished in just a few seconds that we’ve all wanted to do for decades; they put American agriculture back in its proper place.  They recognized the incredibly hard work and 24/7/365 dedication that it takes to be a farmer.  They started a conversation among non farmers about how much they owe to the men and women who populate what too many people on either coast have dismissively labeled ‘fly over country.’

I hope it reversed the trend noted by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack when he made the honest and painfully truthful comment that agriculture was becoming irrelevant to the American political process.  When the public takes notice of any issue like they have because of this commercial, things get moved to the front burner.

It reminded 98% of the population who lost their connection to the farm several generations ago what was left behind when their forebears migrated to the big city.  On Facebook and Twitter, I read a lot of nostalgic remembrances of the life their grandparents lived ‘back in the day.’  Sure, it was a highly romanticized version – there were no shots of calving at midnight during a blizzard or stunted corn burned out by drought – but it was a vivid reminder of a lifestyle that’s disappearing from our collective consciousness all too soon.

We owe a debt of gratitude for “So God Created a Farmer” to Dodge and their ad agency for creating the ad, to Paul Harvey’s golden voice for speaking the words and to the unknown poet who wrote the words.  May it continue to create a meaningful conversation between ag and non-ag people for years to come.  The destructively hurled diatribes and the growing mistrust of late between those two groups have to end.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chuck Jolley, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.

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leader mn.  |  February, 09, 2013 at 09:04 AM

dodge used what good there is left in this confused country to sell a truck musts learned that in government bailout class

VA  |  February, 09, 2013 at 11:47 AM

I'm just glad Chrysler is still in business and employing lots of folks.

VA  |  February, 09, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Plus, I'm not all that confused.

Wa.  |  February, 09, 2013 at 08:38 PM

To bad it was a Dog

February, 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM

The ad had me in tears and I don't even know any farmers. However, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for them. They FEED us, for God's sake! It was a beautiful ad. As far as Paul Harvey and animal rights groups are concerned, I don't know the specifics, but many of these groups have little to say about animal farming unless there is cruelty involved, ie..veal, goose liver, factory farming, etc. Any decent human being should treat animals with respect, even if some of them end up on the kitchen table. The good animal groups are concentrating on vivasection, weekend wildlife shoot-em-ups, and animal rescues. Please don't judge them by the loons at PETA.

nebraska  |  February, 10, 2013 at 06:55 PM

HSUS contribution to vivisection is a one week session of volunteer veterinarians and a spay clinic on a nearby Indian reservation (according to them there are about 30 more nationwide). They had a llama rescue down the street. An old lady had her daughter call them to find out what she could do with a small herd of llamas that nobody in this area wanted. HSUS called two llama santuaries and then arranged an Associated Press story that made all ranchers look like they routinely abused animals. For this great service they get more donations than all the money in the beef, pork, chicken annd dairy checkoffs combined which do a lot more for animal welfare.

Kristin Dewey    
Gill,Colorado  |  February, 15, 2013 at 03:08 PM

I come from a farming/ranching family on both my mom and dad's sides. I've done some of those things that the commercial talked about. Throughout the years I've sat up with numerous sick newborn calves, in our kitchen, in front of the propane stove on a cold below freezing night, trying to feed them with a hose and milk, only to watch it die later that night, or watch it live and grow healthy and reproduce. Taking a picture of it at that time never crossed my mind. It was just something we did to protect the herd. That's why God made a farmer!

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