UI Athletics Department Teams with Iowa Farm Bureau

Aug. 5, 2011

ANF Press Conference Photo Gallery

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Athletics Department and the Iowa Farm Bureau announced at a news conference Friday plans to collaborate on efforts to help consumers understand the challenges and opportunities today’s farmers embrace, and to do so under the banner, “America Needs Farmers,” the initiative undertaken by former UI football coach Hayden Fry during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s and embraced by the Hawkeyes’ current head coach, Kirk Ferentz.

“We are honored for the opportunity to work with the Iowa Farm Bureau to help tell this important story. What Hayden said is as true today as it was 26 years ago: Iowa and America does need its farmers,” said Ferentz.

Experts say in less than a generation, the world’s population will require 100 percent more food than is grown today. And, because there is a finite amount of land that can produce that food, farmers will have to embrace progress and diversity even more than they have to date.

“More Americans than ever before are two, three, four generations from the farm. These Americans also want to know more about their food and it starts with farmers. It’s important to start the conversation and understand what it means to feed a growing world population,” said Craig Lang, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau and fifth-generation dairy farmer.

“Farming has changed a lot since 1985,” he added. “The seeds we plant, the way we plant, the equipment we use has changed, but so has the need for food and energy. Much of the nation’s innovation in renewable energy, medicine, building materials and diagnostic tools come from what we grow. The list continues to grow, but the goal remains unchanged — making sure consumers have safe, wholesome food choices at the grocery store.”

“I have always believed in embracing all the good things that Coach Fry built into the program and ANF was one of his greatest,” said Ferentz. “There is so much to be proud of in Iowa and our prominent position in agriculture is one of them. It’s impressive that we lead the nation in growing more corn, soybeans, ethanol, hogs, and more than any other state in the country, and it’s important to keep that going. Agriculture is a part of the fabric of who we are as Iowans.”

Fry introduced “America Needs Farmers” when his unbeaten and No. 1-ranked 1985 football team traveled to Ohio State for a nationally televised game against the Buckeyes. Iowa took the field with a yellow circle and the letters “ANF” affixed to the right side of the helmets, immediately above the Tigerhawk logo. It was a topic of local, regional and national conversation the remainder of the season, a year that ended for the Hawkeyes in Pasadena, Calif., as the Big Ten Conference’s representative at the 1986 Rose Bowl.

“I was one of the luckiest young men in the world to be raised on a farm until 10 or 11 years of age. A lot of the things I learned on the farm I applied in coaching football and to the financial world. The economic development of the farmer was going downhill. By 1985, it was tragic…closing down farms, people hurting,” recalled Fry.

“I had recruited quite a few farm boys on my football team and they’re the salt of the earth. They wanted an education, they were hungry, they were well-disciplined, they were strong because they had been working on the farm. I came up with the idea that America needs to know that the farmers need help. So I came up with the ANF decal — America Needs Farmers — and it was amazing the great response we got, not only in Iowa but across the nation.”

In recognition of Fry’s leadership position in support of America’s farmers, the UI will designate the space between the west grandstand and the north grandstand of Kinnick Stadium “ANF Plaza.” The plaza will eventually include a bronze plaque that will describe the ANF initiative undertaken in 1985 by Fry and continued today under Ferentz.

The UI Athletics Department will also create an ANF Wall of Fame inside ANF Plaza. The Wall of Fame will honor student-athletes at the UI in the sport of football who exemplify the tenacity, work ethic and character of the American farmer.

The UI will add a section to its award-winning official world wide web site, hawkeyesports.com, dedicated to telling the ANF story. The pages currently include a history of ANF, trivia, a calendar of events related to ANF, and video and editorial from former University of Iowa football players who proudly wore the ANF on their helmet during their playing days at the UI. The site’s URL is AmericaNeedsFarmers.org.

The UI Athletics Department has designated its prime-time Big Ten Conference home game Oct. 15 against Northwestern “ANF Day at Kinnick” and it will work with the Iowa Farm Bureau on the celebration of Iowa’s – – and America’s – – farmers. The UI expects ANF Day to be an annual event.

The UI Athletics Department will also facilitate the creation of officially licensed merchandise that features the ANF logo, the UI’s Tigerhawk logo, and, in certain circumstances, the official logo of the Iowa Farm Bureau. A portion of the royalties generated from the sale of such items will be directed to charitable causes such as food banks throughout the state of Iowa.

“Farmers are glad to see leaders like Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz celebrate America’s farmers. Together, we are proud to recognize the ANF initiative and what it stood for 26 years ago and what it stands for today as a testament to the ‘Farm Strong’ families of Iowa…the men and women who go the extra mile to not only grow safe, wholesome food, but to protect the land and the legacy of rural Iowa and the American farmer,” added Lang.

The UI Athletics Department will work with Hawkeye Sports Properties on execution of certain elements of its partnership with the Iowa Farm Bureau. Hawkeye Sports Properties is a property of Learfield Sports, which manages multimedia rights for more than 50 collegiate institutions, associations and conferences.