Ram Trucks ad of powerful, iconic agricultural images set to Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech is, as we call them in public radio, a “driveway moment”.
Here it is:
The ad has generated huge, ebullient praise from farm country. Canton’s FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) leader, Carol Wright, emailed that the ad’s “a pretty huge acknowledgement of the importance of American agriculture and farming in the US as well as the continued importance of FFA in American education.”
I’ll be honest. I was completely moved by the ad and reminded yet again that, yes, farmers are heroically toiling against all odds to coax food from the soil, one of the great miracles of our planet.
Small farms are dying because they can’t compete with the productivity of larger competitors, a reality that many other industries wrestle with — and from which many consumers inevitably benefit. But even if farm subsidies were intended to alleviate rural poverty and disparity within the industry, then why do most go to commercial farms with average incomes of $200,000 to nearly $2 million?
It’s this reality of agriculture that has fueled the buy local movement, criticism of consolidation, and stiff opposition in camps across the political spectrum to the Farm Bill.
The farmer depicted in the ad still exists (and in some cases, thrives), but American agriculture has long been something very different than the images in the American imagination.
So who is the real farmer? Is the Ram ad an actual defense of the farmers of our imagination? Or is it taking advantage of our feelings about farmers, misleading us about what agriculture is while selling trucks (which, of course, is what it wants to do most)?