I spent this past weekend attending the Nascar Sprint Cup race at the California Speedway as the guest of the #78 Furniture Row Racing team. The team was running the special Farm American paint scheme for the third and final time this season and invited myself, Jeff Fowle, and Stacy and Troy Hadrick to the race in order to learn more about their ideas.
Furniture Row Racing is owned by the Visser family and located in Denver, CO where the Visser’s also have their Furniture Row Company located. The company has over 300 retail stores located throughout the US. Over the course of the weekend Mr. Barney Visser the company president and CEO explained to the four of us Farmers and Ranchers they had invited to the race his passion for the Farm American philosophy. It turns out that at one time the Mr. Visser had to shutter an extremely successful manufacturing plant and with it 800 jobs in the Colorado area because it could not compete financially with imported furniture. The closure was necessary to keep the rest of the business and other jobs; to this day the anguish of having to close the plant down is evident in Mr. Visser’s voice as he talks about it. Because he saw the furniture manufacturing move overseas Mr. Visser said to himself I do not want to have my food imported and committed himself to this mission and the end result is the Farm American concept.
As an American farmer I am completely blown away with gratitude that someone with no close ties to agriculture is willing to dedicate so much passion, time and financial effort to keeping American farmers farming. Throughout the weekend as I learned more about Barney Visser from the members of the race team painted the picture of an extremely passionate caring individual who commits himself to what he does. Let me tell you Barney did not disappoint, the conversation we were engaged in about the Farm American campaign was one full of passion, conviction and effort. The race went well for the team driver Regan Smith kept his head in the game despite some early pit road speeding penalties and had the car in position to take advantage of a brilliant late race call by crew chief Pete Rondeau to only take 2 tires instead of 4. The call allowed for a 20 position gain and the Farm American #78 restarted in 2nd. Regan piloted the car gracefully around the leader Tony Stewart to get the bonus points for leading a lap. Following another caution flag and restart Regan kept the car in the top 10 and on the last lap was passed to finish 12th. The highest finish for the Furniture Row team and Regan this season and a great end to the last race for the Farm American campaign this year.
It would be awesome to see American Agriculture work together with Mr. Visser to expand the Farm American campaign to more races next year. Imagine the access to the race fans with a farmers market in the fan zone highlighting local food and farmers to that race track. While at the race track I saw how much the fans interacted with the other race team displays and I can only dream American Farmers get the same interaction. The Farm American concept includes interactive kiosks and a new spin on racing simulators by using tractors and combines.
On the way home from Southern California Monday morning I was alerted to another effort to impact America’s Farmers and Rancher’s but sadly this effort intends to do the exact opposite of the Farm American campaign. In an article in the Sacramento Bee an extremely radical animal rights organization is painting farmers as criminals.
I have posted to this topic several times already in “Excited to see farmers speaking up” and “Different undercover footage same reaction from me: Outrage” to explain that one incident of mishandling is one too many, there must be zero tolerance for inhumane animal treatment. I as a progressive farmer am disgusted, if not more than anyone by the animal abuse. Every segment of society has a minuscule amount of bad apples that unfortunately taint the whole bunch. Imagine firing all the teachers at a school because one of them is ineffective, nothing is accomplished except more turmoil.
There are a lot of dedicated people off the farm who specialize in animal care, people like veterinarians, animal scientists and other experts on animal well-being. Progressive farmers and ranchers work with these people to create quality-assurance programs that set guidelines for animal handling and ensure the quality of animal products. It is a shame that a militant anti-agriculture group is allowed to taint the reputation of those who, like myself, care greatly and work hard to provide you and your family safe, wholesome, and delicious food.
Get the Story From Farmers
I started the weekend so excited to see the great Farm American story told, only to have that excitement completely replaced with a reality check that we need more farmers and ranchers telling their stories, because they know them the best. If you are looking for an awesome way to get to know some farmers please check out some very cool things like the Know a California Farmer Campaign website or the AgChat Foundation.