Farm Talk

February 19, 2013

“So God made a farmer.” strikes a chord

by Mark Parker

Parsons, Kansas — “And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.”

Amid the glitter and hype of the Super Bowl, a poignant affirmation of the American farmer shined as one of the media extravaganza’s most popular TV commercials.

Dodge Trucks resurrected Paul Harvey’s poetic “So God Made a Farmer” recitation to the 1978 National FFA Convention, a timeless ode to the profession of agriculture.

“God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk the cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”

An estimated 108.4 million people watched the Super Bowl and by Monday 4 million more had watched the “So God Made a Farmer” video on YouTube, a number that had blown past 8 million by the end of the week.

In addition to that huge exposure, the video received millions of hits on other internet sites as well.

Despite its obvious resonance with the public in general — and especially from farm groups — there was criticism of the ad. It was called “shameless pandering to the Heartland,” as well an “outdated stereotype.” It also took some knocks because no Hispanics were portrayed despite the fact that they make up nearly half of farm workers.

Apparently, however, millions and millions of Americans disagreed, including Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who was  unapologetic in his enthusiasm for the ad’s phenomenal reception.

"This ad was a good example of how we can inspire new audiences with a proactive message about the significant contributions of rural America," he said.

“God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.”

Thirty-second spots during the Super Bowl cost advertisers $3.8 to $4 million dollars.

The commercial is the latest in Dodge’s “Guts, Glory, Ram” campaign. Along with Harvey’s voice, it features artistic still pictures by 10 well-known photographers including renowned National Geographic photographer William Albert Allard.

Harvey’s narration ends on a farm scene with the superimposed phrase, “To the farmer in all of us.”

“Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’ So God made a farmer.”

Although there are Dodge trucks in the background of a couple of the scenes, the two-minute ad makes no product mention at all until the commercial ends and the Dodge Ram logo — along with the FFA logo — appears on the screen.

In addition to raising awareness of the Dodge Ram and farmers, the ad will benefit the Indianapolis-based National FFA Organization, which is getting a donation for each download or share of the ad. The ad is now on YouTube and the Ram Truck site.

The intention is to raise $1 million for the FFA, according to reports.

Paul Harvey, an icon with a generation of Americans for his “rest of the story” and his sign-off, “Good day!” passed away in 2009. The Tulsa, Okla., native was known for his conservative views and was a adamant supporter of FFA.

He fell out of favor with many in agriculture, however, when he began voicing strong support for the animal rights movement.

Many farmers and farm groups urged their local radio stations to drop his program.

The Super Bowl commercial ends with a photo of a Dodge truck parked in front of a livestock confinement building.

Text of the poem and video of the commercial are available online by searching for, “So God Made a Farmer.”£