Jim Blome Comments on 'God Made a Farmer' Commercial
Monday, February 11, 2013
Like millions of people, I enjoyed the competitive spirit demonstrated by the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII. For the players, the game was the culmination of endless hours of practice and dedication, and for the fans it was a contest that captured the excellence of sport performed at its highest level. For those who are not football fanatics, the Super Bowl is the ultimate in creative ingenuity and many crowded living rooms throughout America suddenly got quiet as each new advertisement flashed across the screen. As good as they were, however, none captured my attention like Ram Trucks’ “God Made a Farmer” commercial.
The use of photographic images of hard-working farmers combined with a historic speech by late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey vividly brought to life the sacrifices of those Americans for whom we owe so much. I feel fortunate that I was raised on a farm and have been involved in agriculture my entire career. I understand that hundreds of thousands of farmers across the country wake up before dawn and work past dark, coaxing a crop out of a temperamental and often unyielding environment. Ram Trucks' commercial reminded me that while we can afford to be complacent about our food, our farmers cannot.
In 1900, the average American farm fed seven people. Today, the average farm feeds more than 150. This amazing increase in productivity came about because of a revolution in agriculture. Changes in equipment and the use of innovative crop protection tools allowed farmers to bring more of their crop’s innate potential to harvest and then to market, instead of having half of it fall victim to insects, diseases and weeds. Research scientists, agronomists, economists, logisticians, financiers and many others helped contribute to this revolution, but at its center remained the American farmer.
Farming is more than maximizing yields. Today’s farmer is a true steward of the land and it is not uncommon to see ‘century farms’ – those owned by the same family for 100 years or more. Unlike the image painted by some who criticize modern commercial farming operations, the vast majority of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated, accounting for 98 percent of the more than 2 million farms. Farmers are producing more food on less land using fewer resources than ever before. In the past 25 years, dramatic increases in U.S. corn production have been accompanied by reductions in the use of land, water and energy by 27-37 percent. And if that weren’t enough, soil erosion has declined by 69 percent over the same period of time.
Just over one year ago, the world population was estimated to have exceeded 7 billion people. By 2050, this figure will rise to 9 billion and concerns about meeting the challenge to feed a hungry planet are well founded. The amount of food needed over the next 20 years will be twice as much that was produced over the past 10,000 years. I know that modern agriculture has enabled us to meet the challenges of the past and offers us our best hope for the future, but I can’t tell you exactly how this will happen. Certainly advances in research are needed, but the true laboratory of innovation is found on the farm. Perhaps it will require a miracle. Maybe that is why God made a farmer.
-- Jim Blome, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience
(Photo credit: Ram Trucks