It’s no secret that consumers are asking more questions about how their food is produced. In Missouri, a handful of agriculture groups are trying to make sure the answers come from farmers, and they’re capitalizing on the traditions of St. Louis Cardinals baseball and June Dairy Month in the process.
Missouri Farmers Care, a coalition of farm groups, has launched an education and promotion effort that includes bringing farmers together with the ball club’s fans. Three times during June, farmers will greet ticket holders at tailgate events known as Busch Bashes. Participants not only get to meet real Missouri farmers, but they also receive a pack of four “baseball cards” featuring corn, beef, pork and dairy farmers, and a recipe booklet that includes the farmers’ favorite recipes.
Through an online sweepstakes launched June 1, Missouri residents can register at the missourifarmerscare.com website to win $500 worth of free groceries after viewing a video farm tour. During each Cardinals home game, fans will see also see videos of visits by Cardinals mascot Fredbird to the farms of each of the same four farmers featured on the “baseball cards.”
“This is such a great way to reach a broad base of consumers,” said Stacy Dohle, integrated communications manager for Midwest Dairy Association. “The Cardinals have a huge fan base, and they work hard to attract families – the same people we’re reaching out to.”
Farmers in the spotlight
The four featured farmers in the campaign are: Cindy Heins, Higginsville; Stanley Bonacker, Cedar Hill; Gary Porter, Mercer and Chris Chinn, Clarence.
The four also attended a photo shoot this spring with Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday. Each farmer’s likeness is being used in graphics throughout the campaign.
Videos of other farmers also appear on the website. Shannon Squibb, Clever, and Rusty Mulford, Aurora, are among them. Still other farmers will be on site at various events.
Grocery winners will be picked in June, July, August and September. Each month, a different farmer’s Matt Holliday poster will be displayed at Schnucks grocery stores, accompanying in-store promotions. Plans also call for a Fredbird growth poster depicting his support of Missouri farmers for young fans attending a game.
Continued effort with new name
The Missouri Farmers Care initiative picks up where a campaign known as Farmer Feed US left off. Many of the same groups funded Farmers Feed US in 2010, then adopted the Missouri Farmers Care theme this year. Midwest Dairy Association, Missouri Pork, the Missouri Beef Industry Council, Missouri Corn, MFA, Inc., MFA Oil, FCS Financial and the St. Louis Agribusiness Club are financing the Cardinals partnership as part of the broader Missouri Farmers Care coalition.
Last year’s campaign reached more than 97,000 consumers through the website, the Cardinals partnership and related promotion activities.
Sherry Newell is the Director of Communications for Midwest Dairy Association.