Taking the 'Family Farm' Message to Washington

Expanded advertising effort inside the Beltway aims to get the message out about family farms do.

Published on: May 27, 2010

U.S. family farms have a great story to tell, but there's a concern that Washington policymakers don't understand how the industry has changed, or that family farms are still a big part of the mix. The Corn Farmers Coalition - which includes state corn groups and the National Corn Growers Association, is investing $1 million to tell that story in an advertising blitz aimed squarely at those policymakers in Washington D.C.

"We're launching an unprecedented campaign this summer to tell the story that the vast majority of farms are family owned and operated ventures," says Darren Ihnen, president, NCGA. "We're a critical economic engine and 90% of the corn raised in this country comes from family farms."

The campaign, termed a 'drive-by' program, aims to offer quick facts in billboards, radio and print advertising, to impress critical information upon the target audience - Senators and Congressmen and their aids. As Mark Lambert, director of the Corn Farmers Coalition, noted during a presentation at the National Press Club Wednesday: "We'll be advertising from June 1 until Congress recesses at the end of the summer."

He notes that the program will include ads in all Capitol Hill print publications and online versions, ads on the Washington Post website as well as on WMAU, the area's public radio outlet (where sponsor messages can be like ads). In addition, there will be ads at Reagan National Airport and in METRO stations in the region.

In June and July, the coalition will do "station domination" campaigns in some METRO stations where the only ads people will see will be from this campaign. This saturation effort, geared toward educating policymakers, is founded on the idea that lawmakers are moving farther from the farm and have less of an understanding of what's going on in the country.

"I used to come to Washington to meet with Senators and Congressmen," says John Adams, an Atlanta, Ill., farmer and Illinois Corn Grower Association member. "Two years ago when I went back there, I found that a lot of aids and people we visited with didn't know there were any family farms left. That bothered me a lot."

The program, which will highlight real farmers and operations - including the Adams' business - aims to show that farmers are growing more corn on less land, using less resources and reducing greenhouse gases. There's a sample of one of the ads below, and you can learn more by visiting CornFarmersCoalition.org.