From that list, Gant says, it was decided to concentrate the initial campaign around the fact that the majority of Mississippi farms are family owned, not corporate owned. “There’s a pretty big disconnect on this issue with the general public. While most farms today have a corporate structure for tax and legal purposes, they’re family owned, family run operations. The fact is, there are only a few large corporate farm operations in Mississippi.”

Another issue selected for the campaign, he says, was the affordability of food for U.S. consumers, as compared to other nations, and food safety.

A third was the issue of animal rights, which has received widespread media attention through the efforts of the Human Society of the United States, which is pushing legislation in a number of states that would severely limit or eliminate much of animal agriculture.

“We wanted to emphasize that our livestock and poultry producers treat their animals well,” Gant says. “These animals are their livelihood, and it’s in their best interests to see that they’re healthy and treated humanely.”

Once the three key issues were selected, Greg Gibson, media coordinator, and his department did the creative work for the billboards, TV/radio spots, and handout materials.

“We’re fortunate in having some very talented people, who did an outstanding job with these ideas,” Gant says.

The campaign was launched Feb. 15, with the three TV spots being shown on two stations in the Jackson market. The 30-second spots were run 1,200 times. As part of the package, one of the TV stations provided an equal number of public service spots with their on-air personality, Barbie Bassett, and Farm Bureau was allowed to host a cooking segment that featured a local farmer who talked about the campaign.

Billboards, 15 static and one digital, were purchased throughout the Jackson metro area in high visibility locations, and time was purchased on a statewide radio talk network. As a bonus, Farm Bureau spokespersons were guests on several of the talk shows to promote the campaign.

Another highlight of the campaign, Ferguson says, was a promotion with the Mississippi Braves, an AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

“We sponsored a fireworks show at a Friday night game, attended by more than 4,000 people. Local farmers passed out Farm Families of Mississippi refrigerator magnets and recipe cards featuring Mississippi commodities. They also played our TV spots on the Jumbotron at center field and farm facts were read over the public address system between innings. And we purchased a banner that will hang in the stadium all year long.”

A Web site was created (Farmers are Growing Mississippi) to promote all the things farmers do for consumers, and includes links for the TV spots and other materials.