Grassroots Iowa group hosts fundraiser
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, farm community has come together every March for 26 years for its Celebration of Agriculture dinner. The evening pays tribute to the farmers and agribusinesses that underpin the industry. This year, the group used the gathering as a grassroots opportunity to help Farmers Feeding the World provide hunger relief and stand up for farmers’ freedom to operate.'
Proceeds from dinner tickets, passing the hat and five special pledges from the crowd totaled $11,566.
Nearly a third of that money, $3,566, goes to the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) Food Reservoir, a central Iowa food bank affiliated with Feeding America. The remainder funds ongoing Farmers Feeding the World efforts.
"There’s no better way to celebrate being the breadbasket of the world than helping feed the hungry," says Dave Roll, area farmer and member of the event’s steering committee. "Agriculture and our community have a long history of giving back—locally and beyond."
Roll’s vision of devoting the 2012 event to Farmers Feeding the World sparked five folks to make special pledges that evening. They are Matt Wilson of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, $500; Rob Ball of Linn Co-op Oil Company, $500; Scott Neighbor of Farmers State Bank, $500; Tom Plaht of AgDirect and Farm Credit, $1,000; and an anonymous farmer, $500.
"Having 625 of agriculture’s best joining our effort made for a powerful night," says Brian Hogue, director of operations for Farmers Feeding the World. "Several other communities and groups have dinners and fundraisers in the works, but there’s something special about the group that is first and leads with vision."
The Iowa group has a history of breaking out of the box by bringing four former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture, other dignitaries and ag leaders to speak at the dinner.
The speaker for 2012 was Illinois farmer John Phipps, "U.S. Farm Report" host and columnist for Farm Journal and Top Producer. He won the crowd over with humorous commentary on how black swans, or unpredictable events, impact agriculture. With all the uncertainty black swans bring, Phipps said, it’s key that the general population look to agriculture as a stabilizing force. "They need to know ‘We’re your farmers and you can count on us.’"
Those who have a chance to eat thanks to the generosity of the Iowa group will certainly get that message in a very meaningful way.