Animal rights activist gives us the stage
By Trent Loos
Without question the best national buzz about the "American Farmer" has occurred in the past week thanks to Dodge Ram Super Bowl ad praising the work we do. Minutes after the ad was over, the posts on Facebook and all other social media forums began to take off.
I believe tears may have been streaming down the cheeks of the toughest old duffers this business has to offer.
Someone outside of our immediate "community" actually said thank you while showing pictures of the faces and hands of the men, women and children who make up food and fiber production in this great nation.
The ad, while tremendously effective for Dodge and a bolster to the pride of American Farmers and Ranchers, didn't address the challenges that face us going forward. However, it did initiate a conversation that we must keep rolling.
The ad seemed to tap into the romanticized "Americana" that drives all of us that tend to land and livestock. It brought front and center the men and women who make it happen. It did nothing to speak to the importance of technology that must continue to be implemented in order to feed the growing world population. Quite honestly, the greatest struggle that the non-farm public has is understanding what we do and why. Explaining that is not Dodge's job. They simply wanted to garner attention for agriculture and they did.
As the glowing reviews were being posted on Facebook, it was the continued support of Paul Harvey that finally brought me out of my silence. The typical post was "great message, great broadcaster." The poem about how God made a farmer was one that Harvey did not write but actually read at the 1978 National FFA Convention.
In the 1960s and 70s Harvey was a great broadcaster and that is what most remember. I, however, remember more recently the hours he spent on the air bringing the animal rights message mainstream. I was in the crowd at animal rights conventions in the early 2000s where they discussed how they were strategically using Harvey to get the animal rights message into the mainstream and it worked. Send the message through a voice already trusted by the people and you are in!
You can tell me all you want that it is not respectful that I speak of the dead in a negative way, but his mission is now being carried by his son. I am simply telling you that the man worked hard at ending animal agriculture. You may have forgotten that many rural stations dropped his broadcast in the later years because his stance was so obvious. He regularly praised Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of PETA, as a great American. On June 9, 2004, he said, "Ingrid Newkirk works tirelessly and considers her own scars to be insignificant compared to the endless anguish that she is committed to curtail."
Humane Society of the United States President Wayne Pacelle wrote a tribute to Harvey upon his death. Some animal advocates may not be aware that Paul and Angel were two of the best friends that the animal protection movement and the HSUS ever had, and the same must be said of their surviving son, Paul Harvey Jr.
The only reason I walk through all of this is not to detract one bit from the overall message the Dodge Ram commercial brought to the nation, but to express my disappointment in my fellow agriculturalists who do not know who is for us and who is against us. I think you truly underestimate the all-out war that we are in and the strategies that are being used against us.
Do we need to take people for what they are now or should do we go way back to what they did years ago? Think of it personally. Would you rather have people evaluate the kind of person you've become after seeing the world and deciding who you are and what you stand for or based upon the foolish decisions you made as a teenager?
One truly amazing thing will happen as a result of the Dodge ad that you need to know about. If you saw the ad you may have noticed an FFA symbol present at the end. Dodge had contacted the National FFA Organization and offered to donate up to $1 million dollars for programs like "FFA Rally to Fight Hunger." When the YouTube views of this ad hit 10 million, Dodge will write a check to the FFA. Now that is true dedication to the future of our industry.
Dwight Armstrong, CEO of the National FFA Organization, told me that the media calls to the office in the first two days after the ad aired were unprecedented and the buzz is real. As I write this the number of views is over 6 million and I am guessing that by the time you read this the goal will have been met.
It really does not matter who voiced the tremendous piece that captured the attention of the nation about the importance of farmers. What matters now is what we will do with the momentum that has started to carry the energy into previously uncharted waters. I have my ideas and will be putting them in place today. I'd love to hear yours and let's keep this buzz going long after the chips and dip are stale.
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.