Ag Needs a Celebrity Spokesperson

Prairie Gleanings

PETA has a number of celebrities willing to speak on their behalf. Shouldn't ag have at least one?

Published on: March 8, 2012
Does ag need a celebrity spokesperson? Don’t laugh, I’m being serious here.

A couple weeks ago, I was in Orlando at the National Ethanol Conference. The Renewable Fuels Association put on a terrific program.

After one presentation, an audience member stood up and proposed that ethanol get a celebrity spokesperson so the general public can better understand the industry. There were a few chuckles, but I saw a number of heads nodding in agreement, mine included.

She suggested Matt Damon for the ethanol industry. I’m not sure of his views on ethanol. Regardless, I’d like to ponder upon the idea as it relates to ag in general.

First and foremost, the spokesman should not be Willie Nelson. I enjoy his music, but his image is not one that melds well with modern day farming. Not to mention, I’ve previously voiced my displeasure with his whole Farm Aid charity.

Rather, it should be someone with a hardworking and honest image. Last summer, Matt Holliday, the St. Louis Cardinals’ left fielder, did a number of radio ads for a group of Missouri commodity groups. As a huge Cards fan, it felt really good to hear Holliday say the word “farmer” multiple times in the 30 second spot.

So, we need someone honest, hardworking and willing to speak up for U.S. farmers. I’m sure many of you are thinking the same thing I am. What about Mike Rowe! The man has already stood up for us on animal welfare issues. His entire claim to fame is based on doing difficult, dirty jobs. His voice, appearance and demeanor strike me as extremely honest.

If we did solicit the help of a celebrity advocate, funding will be the first issue to pop up. Most commodity and farm groups are already penciling in additional funds for image campaigns. Why not form a coalition of multiple ag groups and start going after this on a national basis?

Local farmers do a terrific job advocating in their area, but they lack the memorability of a celebrity like Mike Rowe. I don’t own a pair of Lee jeans or a Ford automobile, but I know Mike Rowe is the spokesman for both.

So, here’s my thought process. Mike Rowe seems like an honest, hard-working guy. He made a great career out of doing dirty jobs across the country. Oh, here he is doing a commercial for Ford. Hmmm….Ford must be an honest, hard-working auto manufacturer if Mike Rowe is willing to stand by their products.

If he did the same sort of ads for ag, wouldn’t urban consumers experience the same sort of feelings? I would think so.