A strategic partnership supported by Iowa’s pork producers is bringing farming to life for thousands of Iowans and creating greater understanding and trust in today’s farms and food system.
The Iowa Food & Family Project, launched last year by the Iowa Soybean Association, is a purpose-driven initiative that unites consumers and farmers through personal engagement and advocacy. It involves nearly 35 partners including the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).
“Iowa farmers have long sought to rally a diversified group of food and agricultural stakeholders around the value of maintaining strong and vibrant farms,” says IPPA President Bill Tentinger of LeMars. “Since its launch just 18 months ago, the Iowa Food & Family Project (FFP) has taken this concept and made it a reality.”
Focus on Engagement
“Seeing is believing” is the essence of the Iowa FFP. As presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and supporter of Live Healthy Iowa, the Iowa FFP engages more than 125,000 Iowans about the continuous improvements in farming and the dedication of farmers to providing wholesome food for everyone.
In July, more than 4,000 Summer Iowa Games participants attended the Iowa FFP “Fields of Champions” Cookout in Ames. The event included a complimentary pork and beef burger dinner and numerous ag awareness activities. Fifteen farmers, including several pork producers, mingled with participants, sharing information about their farms and encouraging people to submit ag conversation cards. Nearly $4,000 was contributed to the Iowa Food Bank during the event, providing nearly 12,000 meals to people in need.
Other signature ag awareness events are coordinated by the Iowa FFP throughout the year. In August, the Iowa FFP hosted the largest food build ever constructed in Iowa at the Iowa State Fair. The “Back to the Farmer” exhibit celebrated the continuous improvements of farmers. To capture the attention of fairgoers, a DeLorean was sculpted from 14,000 canned and packaged food items. Nearly 250,000 fairgoers viewed the exhibit including more than 4,000 people who registered for prizes and opted in to learn more about the continuous improvements of farm families. Following the fair, all food items and $7,000 contributed by fairgoers were donated to Iowa’s food banks.
Also this year, the Iowa FFP:
· Launched “U on the Farm,” a contest conducted quarterly providing Iowa FFP Facebook followers an opportunity to win a farm tour and experience farm life up close and personal;
· Partnered with the Machine Shed Restaurant to create “Talkin’ Farming at the Shed.” The event, to be held four times annually, was launched in September and offers Machine Shed patrons the opportunity to visit with a farmer and participate in ag-related activities. A family that specializes in pork production will be the featured guests for the December event;
· Increased its social networking with consumers – during 2012, the number of Iowa FFP Facebook followers increased from 289 to nearly 1,300 (www.facebook.com/foodnfamilies); and on Twitter, participation doubled from 310 to more than 630 (@foodnfamilies); and
· Created an 18-member advisory team to guide the organization’s work. The group includes IPPA Consumer Information Director Joyce Hoppes.
Committed to Results
Research conducted in May with the support of IPPA shows that the Iowa FFP is achieving results.
A survey of nearly 500 affluent and highly-educated Iowans measured consumer attitudes toward farming and awareness of the Iowa FFP. The study then measured correlations between Iowa FFP awareness and the respondents’ attitudes toward farming. It found that:
· 18% were aware of the Iowa Food & Family Project
· 88% supported the mission and goals of the Iowa FFP
Those who indicated familiarity with the Iowa FFP were:
· 14% points more likely to say that farmers are environmental stewards
· 11% more knowledgeable about farming
· 6% more trusting of farmers to adequately care for the well-being of livestock
· 6% more trusting of farmers to do things right.
“The Iowa Pork Producers Association is proud of its involvement with the Iowa FFP because it unites so many diverse yet like-minded partners in pursuit of one results-oriented goal,” Tentinger says. “It was a banner year for the ag awareness initiative and we look forward to playing a key role in its continued success.”