Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Farm American & #Foodthanks

Project Farm American: a mobile agricultural education unit traveling to schools, shopping centers and sporting events that will reach over 62 million people every year. This project is an opportunity to build bridges between rural and urban America. For years, those in agriculture have been ‘searching’ to find a way to reconnect with consumers, particularly those in urban areas. Project Farm American fits that goal in a unique way.

Every agricultural organization understands the importance of policy development; however, with bridge building to the urban interface, we have the opportunity to garner even more support, outside our own community. We in agriculture clearly understand that the pressures we are facing from regulatory and legislative actions, drafted by individuals without a clear understanding of that which they are wanting to govern. This project will lead to a more informed public and more common sense legislation.
Would it not be advantageous to reach out to the public, educate them on what, why and how we do what we do? The Farm American project will reach over 62 million people, covering all demographics, each year. The potential impact that will be gained through this effort is astronomical.

Further, it is important to note that this project promotes the importance and value of all agricultural enterprises. It will fit hand-in-hand with the multiple social media projects, spread throughout the country, that are already building bridges and growing communities of understanding. The opportunity for consumers to meet local farmers and ranchers, enjoy the product of their toil, and learn how that commodity was grown and harvested will be personal. This is a package that will put the face of the American farmer back on the plate.

This is an effort that all Americans can participate in. Our objective is raise the recognition of the American farmer, so that we are able to continue to produce all of the food that our country needs and not have to rely upon foreign imports to feed our own people. It is fitting that this week is also #world #foodthanks week. Show your support for American farmers and ranchers by supporting the Farm American Project and by visiting http://foodthanks.com/, and make some posts utilizing the #foodthanks hashtag.

Together, Troy and Stacey Hadrick, Ray Prock and I are undertaking an effort to raise $1 million dollars to go towards getting the mobile, interactive agricultural education unit on the road. We are asking for pledges for four years at the following minimums, feel free to challenge others for more; individuals, farms and ranches - $50, County Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen and Cattlewomen Associations - $250, State Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen, Cattlewomen and Beef Councils - $2,500. We are counting on agvocates across the US to help us reach these organizations and many more.

To show your support of this endeavor, we simply ask that you post your interest as a comment to this blog and send an quick email to FarmAmerican@gmail.com One of us will contact you for the appropriate information. Also, feel free to contact any of us with questions you may have.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My #foodthanks

For many of us this time of the year, giving thanks for food on the table is a time-honored tradition. It may strike some as odd, being as I am a rancher, but I am thankful for the 100’s of farmers and ranchers I have met this past year in person and the 100’s I have met through various social media platforms.

I am thankful for the farmers who grew the corn, almonds, barley, cotton, and soybeans that make up the grain ration I feed to our bulls.

I am thankful for the farmers who grow the fresh fruits and vegetables that we are able to buy at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the farmers who grow the pork, lamb and yes, even poultry, which we are able to buy at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the farmers who care for the cows at the dairies and provide us with a steady supply of refreshing milk at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the farmers who grow the herbs, grains and other essentials that are so readily available at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the multitude of people who are responsible for getting the products from the farm to the store.

Join the AgChat Foundation in sharing your thanks this Wednesday, November 24, in a tweet, a Facebook post, video or blog. Our goal with the #foodthanks campaign is to provide tools and inspiration for spreading personal expressions of gratitude beyond the family table to that extended circle of friends and family in our social media networks.Use the hashtag #foodthanks & use the image.

What are you thankful for?

Visit: http://foodthanks.com/

Monday, November 15, 2010

An 'Aggie' Experience at an Innovation Summit

This past Friday night and Saturday morning I was fortunate to be invited to attend & speak at the 2010 Innovation Summit, presented by Partners for Growth and Innovation. Thank you very much to Marla Schulman and Tanya Noel for allowing me to take part in this enjoyable experience.


Friday evening, in a small group setting, we engaged in a very informative discussion, led by Nilofer Merchant (http://twitter.com/Nilofer), on applying strategic thinking and innovation. An insightful presentation and discussion. I then thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking social media strategy, blogging and marketing with Christian Gammill (http://twitter.com/Gammill), and Liz Strauss (http://twitter.com/lizstrauss).

Saturday morning, Naeem Zafar (Professor, Hass Business School, U.C. Berkeley, http://twitter.com/naeem ) , delivered a keynote on Creating an Ecosystem of Innovation: Lessons from Silicon Valley. It was an enjoyable discussion with question and answer that followed.

I then participated as a panelist discussing Strategic Innovative Problem Definition – from where we are to where we have to be, with Sussan Thomas (President, Trainer Communications), Mark Kithcart, (Marketing Director, Democrasoft), Karolina Caran, (Motivational Researcher and Author), Omar Ahmad, (Co-Founder & CEO, SynCHEnergy Corporation) and Rooley Eliezerov, (Co-founder & President, Gigya), as the moderator.

It was interesting to see the correlations that agriculture shares with corporate America, yet still maintains its unique ability to stay grounded in family and inter-personal relationships with our customers.

A common theme among the panelists was the idea of “failing forward fast” and how society has come to view “failure” positively, since we have the ability to learn from our mistakes. Omar helped me to realize again how thankful I am that we have corporations in agriculture that are able to engage in this philosophy in order for family farmers and ranchers to take advantage and incorporate the resulting innovations.

Following the panel, a great presentation was delivered by Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at Altimeter Group(http://twitter.com/jowyang) , on how corporations connect with their customer using web technologies. It was interesting to recognize that AgChat Foundation and efforts within agriculture are ahead of the curve in this arena by utilizing a combination of the ‘Dandelion’ and ‘Holistic’ strategy model. http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2010/04/15/framework-and-matrix-the-five-ways-companies-organize-for-social-business/

Sadly, I had to head home early. The cattle and horses were eagerly awaiting their feed and my neighbors were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

I look forward to continuing discussions with those that I met at the summit. It was a tremendous learning experience and I eagerly await the next.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Farm American, Time For Team Work

Three weekends ago, Ray Prock, Troy and Stacy Hadrick and I were invited to attend the Fontana NASCAR race as a guest of the Furniture Row Racing Team. Team owner, Barney Visser, also graciously ran the Farm American paint scheme on the 78 at three races this season. Mr. Visser has first hand experience with the outsourcing of American jobs and does not want to see same happen to agriculture. His passion for American agriculture is obvious and I am excited to work with Furniture Row racing, Ray, Troy and Stacy on his dream to promote American agriculture.




It is time for all of agriculture to step up and come together to support an endeavor that will reach over 60% of population, 36 weeks each year through televised coverage, live races and retail store promotion. After catching 'Undercover Boss' this week, with NASCAR's SVP Steve Phelps and Chief Marketing Officer, and witnessing first hand in Fontana, the similarities between NASCAR and American Agriculture are very apparent. Both NASCAR and American Agriculture place strong emphasis on family values, patriotism and efficiency. The team and partnership are there for the making. Lead by crew chief Pete Rondeau, the #78 team exhibited passion, top skills and professionalism as they performed in the pits, shared attributes of American family farmers and ranchers.

  video
Just as dedicated, to keeping American agriculture viable, was the young, promising and truly dedicated driver of the #78, Regan Smith. Regan is from an agricultural background in New York and shared with us his commitment to doing what he can to further promote American agriculture and keep it viable. Having followed NASCAR for sometime, I can verify that Regan Smith has the perfect attitude, personality and dedication to be the driver of the Farm American car.

Hang on! I am just getting to the real exciting part of the vision, as shared with us by Pat Driscoll, Corporate Relations Director and Shawn Martini, Communications Director. This endeavor is more than an outstanding team, a competitive car, a talented driver and a beautiful paint scheme every race day. The goal is to also have a traveling, interactive, educational mobile tour, that will be at every track and make stops between races. This mobile tour will educate the public about American agriculture & promote products grown regionally, based on the track location. Local family farmers and ranchers will interact with the public, build new bridges and grow bigger communities of understanding.Stops for the mobile tour will include tracks, schools, shopping malls, shows and state fairs.

The photo above is a prime example of the attraction by the public to the #78 Farm American car. This father and his son and daughter we just walking down pit road, looking at the cars, saw the #78, stopped and asked if we would take their picture with it. A neat conversation about farming and ranching ensued.

We need agribusiness, industry organizations, farmers and ranchers to come together on this team of opportunity. Barney Visser, owner of Furniture Row, a man with no ties to agriculture, other than a passion for eating healthy, wholesome, nutritious American grown food, has already invested nearly $2 million of his own to launch the effort. This race season is nearly over and the time is now to step forward and become a member of this winning team for American agriculture.

We have been looking for opportunities to reach out to more people, greater diversity and gain positive air time on major networks. How often does agriculture have someone volunteer to help promote our industry at a national level, in a way that reaches over 160 million people? This is it! It is time to become a part of Team Farm American.

I would like to personally express a heartfelt thank you to Barney Visser, Pete Rondeau, Joe Garone, Pat Driscoll, Shawn Martini and Charlie Krauch for inviting us to Fontana and including us in this important journey. Excited anticipation for the future of Farm American and Furniture Row Racing is an understatement.

To learn more about the team, driver and program, check out:

Recent post by Troy Hadrick on Advocates for Agriculture: http://advocatesforag.blogspot.com/2010/10/farm-american.html

Recent post by Ray Prock:
http://raylindairy.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/disappointing-end-to-a-wonderful-weekend/

Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/Regan_Smith_ (Regan Smith)

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/FarmAmerican

Website - http://www.farmamerican.com/index.asp?LT=about

Or, send me an email. jefffowle96027@gmail.com and I would be happy to discuss the program with you and get you in touch with appropriate people to become a part of the team.

About Me

My photo
Jeff Fowle is a fourth generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. He and his wife Erin and son Kyle raise registered Angus cattle, Percheron draft horses, warmbloods, alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay. They also start and train horses for riding, jumping, and driving. Their family run ranch has incorporated many environmentally beneficial and water efficient technologies and management strategies. Jeff attended college at Colorado State University for two years and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Following college, he worked in Washington State for a year as a herdsman for BB Cattle Company and then returned to Etna, California in 1995 to own and operate KK Bar Ranch and Siskiyou Percherons. The latter was started by his grandfather, Clarence Dudley, who devoted much of his time to the Percheron Horse Association of America, specifically to developing their youth education program.