By Brian Hefty

Almost a year ago, I was talking to a member of the Tournament of Roses committee, and I said, “Your parade theme this coming year is Making a Difference. Who makes more of a difference in our society than farmers? Without farmers, none of us would be here. Farmers are unsung heroes who work tirelessly to provide our country with the safest, healthiest, most abundant, and by the way – cheapest food supply in the world! I think the parade needs a float recognizing farmers!”

The committee agreed with me, and Ag PhD was chosen to help design and manage a “Salute to Farmers” float in the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1, 2018!

Another thing I talked to the tournament about is this: When you ask a non-farmer today what they think of when someone mentions the word agriculture, you will likely hear responses with the words GMO, biotech, food safety, water quality, corporate farming, pesticides, etc. To me, that’s not at all what agriculture is about. Agriculture is about families feeding families. Almost all the farming done in the United States and around the world is by family farm operations. Our idea for the Salute to Farmers float was to not only feature some modern equipment and a grain bin (staples on most Midwestern farms where we come from), but to have 100 farmers riding on the float!

We believe this float will have a record number of riders, as we can’t find any float in the past that has had more. The reason why this is important is to show the general public that farming is done by family farm operations. It is about the people. If consumers today understand that it is simply hard-working Americans living on the land and producing food, I think a lot of the disconnection we have with non-farmers will start to go away. If you go to agphd.com over the next couple of months, you will see profile stories about the farmers we have chosen to ride with us on the float.

We also want to thank Patrick Gottsch and everyone at RFD-TV and Rural Radio for making this all happen. The best Rose Parade coverage, hands-down, is on RFD-TV, so we encourage you to watch the parade there. 2018 marks the 20th year on TV for Ag PhD (18 years on RFD-TV) and 5 years of Ag PhD on Rural Radio SiriusXM 147.

In order to make the Salute to Farmers float possible, WE NEED YOUR HELP! Go to the Rose Parade page for details on how you can sign up to volunteer to help decorate the float AND how you can send seeds from your farm to be placed on the float!

With the decorating opportunity, we need hundreds of volunteers for the week leading up to the parade, with much of the help needed 2 or 3 days in advance to place tens of thousands of flowers on the float. As for the seed, we want seed from all 50 states. It can be any type of seed, but preferably something you grow in your garden or on your farm. We’ll take anything you’ve got. Again, the information for all this is under the Rose Parade section at agphd.com.

If you want to attend the Rose Parade, you can purchase tickets from Sharp Seating at www.sharpseating.com.

We are honored to have been selected to participate in the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade. Hopefully we will be able to provide a very positive message for all farmers everywhere. If you can’t join us out there, please be sure to watch us on RFD-TV, as they will be highlighting our float with more coverage than you will see on the other networks.