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Agrimarketing : October 2008
bution, agri-tourism, value-add crops, large animal operations and still had the chance to visit with growers in more traditional corn and bean operations. While there were similarities between both tours, each was specialized to fit the markets and clients that each office handles.” THE ADFARM FARM One of the most highly anticipated stops on the Fargo tour is the farm of Fred and Jane Lukens. Besides being a farmer, Fred is also an AdFarm employee. In addition to his own land, he leases acres to the agency and performs the farming operations for what is known as the AdFarm “Farm U.S.” (There’s also an AdFarm “Farm Canada” outside of Calgary). Every employee of AdFarm has the opportunity to buy a stake in this farm and its sister farm in Calgary. Everyone has the option to buy up to four shares per farm at $25 each. Profit or not, each year every investor gets a small sample of the anticipation and worries involved in the farming experience. “From copywriters to account executives, you can be sure that everyone on that tour was learning as much as possible about that oper- ation,” says Fargo office Account Manager Leah Brakke. “There’s no better way to learn about farming than to invest your own money in a crop. We had art directors asking questions about production practices and hail damage. It’s always a great reminder of how we set ourselves apart in the agency world with our full focus on agriculture.” The highlight of every Fargo tour is probably the final stop inside the Lukens home. Here, Jane Lukens treats the large group every tour to a selection of 17 different types of pie. “The tour itself is all about the farm and farming, but most of the talk on the way back is always about the pies,” says Brakke. HEARTLAND EXPEDITION Where the Fargo tour was an intense production farming experience this year, the expedition out of Kansas City was flavored with an assort- ment of stops exploring off-farm agribusinesses. After an early-morning departure and overview on the bus, the first stop was at Mid-Missouri Energy, a grower-owned cooperative ethanol plant. There the group followed the corn from truckload to lab through processing into alcohol, modified cat- tle feed and CO2 . Along the way, they learned about the scientific, agro- nomic, environmental and economic aspects of the plant itself. Afew even learned how modified cattle feed tastes to people (they wouldn’t recom- mend it). Fortunately, they were able to wash that taste out during the next stop at nearby Baltimore Bend Winery where a little midday wine tasting followed a program on grape production, wine bottling and goods marketing. The next destination of the day was AGRIServices of Brunswick, MO, a full-service agricultural retailer, distributor and grain stor- age and transport facility.Wilhelm says the question and answer ses- sion with the site representatives was a virtual feeding frenzy for informa- tion. “We made this a tour stop because it was so relevant to our business with its connec- tion to crop protection, plant nutrients, feed products, grain merchan- dising, storage and transportation,” says Wilhelm. “This facility handled products of just about every client in the Kansas City office. So our people had a breadth of questions through- out the AGRIServices tour. And I could tell that our guides were sur- prised at the drilled down, deep questions that were coming from these ad agency people.” Day two of Kansas City’s “Farm Daze” began at Fahrmeier Farms, originally a traditional row crop farm that now consists of green- houses, fruit and vegetable produc- tion, a vineyard and diversified livestock, including cattle, goats and hogs. With livestock and ani- mal health a key business of AdFarm, the day’s agenda also next few hours. There were lots of questions about the products and offerings of AdFarm clients, as well as key issues for input decisions. On the drive back to Kansas City, the AdFarm team discussed much of what they had learned and heard during the tour. Wilhelm, though, talked about what Farm Daze could hold in the future: “As AdFarm’s operations continue to expand, look for future Farm Daze to include things like a cotton/fiber tour, a California horti- culture tour, an aquaculture industry event, and learning more about com- modity associations. Wherever agri- culture is, AdFarmers are interested in knowing more.” AM October 2008 ¦ AgriMarketing 59 Toview a video of the tour, go to: www.AdFarmOnline.com/FarmTour included a visit to an adjacent cat- tle feedlot operation. END WITH DESSERT Even with the deeper focus on all facets of agribusiness, AdFarmers still had the opportunity to see U.S. agri- culture at its traditional, iconic best. The final afternoon of the tour found them sitting at shady picnic benches on the lawn of a white farmhouse with long views of corn and soybean fields for miles in every direction. Neal and Linda Niendick hosted the final stop for the group in Wellington, MO. There was barbeque, sweet tea, homemade peach cobbler and hand-cranked ice cream to enjoy. In addition to the hosts, several farm- ers from the area joined the group — and AdFarmers had an opportunity to ask questions and gain insight and perceptions from the farmers for the
November December 2008