Iowa farm community joins Farmers Feeding the World to provide hunger relief locally and globally
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, farm community has come together every March for 26 years for its Celebration of Agriculture dinner. True to event’s name, the evening pays tribute to the farmers and agribusinesses that underpin the industry. Last night, the group used the gathering as a grassroots opportunity to join the Farmers Feeding the World effort to provide hunger relief and stand up for farmers’ freedom to operate.
Guests from all corners of the state packed the Marriott ballroom and by the end of the night, 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, will go directly to the HACAP Food Reservoir, the central Iowa food bank affiliated with Feeding America. The remainder goes directly to 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 steering committee. "Agriculture and our community has a long history of giving back – both locally and beyond."
Roll’s vision of devoting the 2012 Celebration of Agriculture to Farmers Feeding the World sparked five folks to make special pledges from the crowd at the end of the evening. Those included Matt Wilson with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, $500; Rob Ball with Linn Coop Oil Company, $500; Scott Neighbor with Farmers State Bank, $500; Tom Plaht with Ag Direct and Farm Credit, $1,000; and a farmer who wants to remain anonymous, $500.
"Having 625 of agriculture’s best in a room and join our Farmers Feeding the World effort made for a powerful night," says Brian Hogue, director of operations, who accepted the donation. "We know that 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 thanks to the foundation laid down by Dwight Hughes, Jr., Cedar Rapids farmer and business owner, who started the Celebration of Ag in 1987. His steadfast participation and guidance has helped bring four former U.S. secretaries of agriculture, other dignitaries and ag leaders speak to the group.
The speaker for 2012, Illinois farmer John Phipps, who hosts U.S. Farm Report host and writes columns for Farm Journal and Top Producer, wowed the crowd with his humor-laden commentary on how black swans – unpredictable events—impact agriculture. With all the uncertainly black swans bring, Phipps shared that it is paramount that the general population can look to agriculture as a stabilizing force. "They need to know ‘I’m your farmer’ and ‘You can count on us,’" he shared.
Those who are hungry but will have a chance to eat thanks to the generosity of the Iowa group will certainly get that message in a very meaningful manner.