With a very successful first year campaign to enhance the image of the state’s farmers under its belt, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation is already planning for an expanded effort in 2011.

The “Farm Families of Mississippi” campaign included TV commercials, billboards, radio, print materials, and a tie-in with the Mississippi Braves baseball team.

The initial campaign “succeeded beyond our expectations,” said David Waide, MFBF president, at a Grenada, Miss. meeting to honor companies, organizations, and individuals who helped provide financial support.

“For a long time, there has been a ‘preaching to the choir’ frustration among our membership about how the consumer public views agriculture, and we’d been wanting to do something that would effectively enhance that perception.

“Our Communications Committee came up with the idea for the “Farm Families of Mississippi” campaign and our board committed $75,000 to the effort — an amount that has been substantially matched by contributions from a large roster of co-sponsors. We’re very grateful to all the companies, organizations, and individuals who have joined with us in supporting this very worthwhile program.”

Waide says surveys commissioned by MFGF “have corroborated what we already knew — that our state’s farmers have a very high believability rating. Farmers rank second highest in consumers’ esteem, just behind veterinarians.”

Donald Gant, Merigold, Miss., producer and chairman of the MFBF Communications Committee, said the initial campaign “was a great start, and we’re going to build on that success; our 2011 campaign is already taking shape.”

He says the committee began in 2008 exploring ideas about possibilities for enhancing agriculture’s image in the state.

“We looked at what was being done in other states and sought the advice of media and marketing experts. We were told to start small, in one major market, and because media buys are very expensive — particularly for TV — to enlist as many supporters as possible to share the costs.”

Farm Bureau commissioned a poll of Mississippi consumers by an independent research organization, asking 40 questions about their perceptions of agriculture and farmers.