A new feature film, The Ivy League Farmer, tells the story of a father and son in conflict over the use of modern technology and the future of the family dairy farm. It's also a love story that explores a small town's concern about local kids not getting enough to eat.
"Food safety, sustainability, and affordability are critical issues," says Jeff Cannon, president and CEO of Diamond V, an Iowa-based company focused on cost-effective production and optimal food safety. "Food security is a growing concern, too. Even though the U.S. has one of the safest and most affordable food supplies in the world, 15 percent of Americans suffer from food insecurity.
"Even in Iowa, one of the top agricultural states, there are communities where one in four school-age children get their only meal of the day at school," he adds.
At the same time, Cannon says, everyone gets a great deal of confusing, often contradictory information about modern food production. "Less than 2 percent of Americans live on working farms," he points out, "so it's not surprising that there are a lot of misconceptions about modern agriculture and the vital role it plays in meeting the challenges of food security at home and abroad."
Cannon said it's a challenge to help consumers better understand the real choices ahead as farmers work to produce safe, sustainable, affordable food. To help address the "farm to food knowledge gap," Diamond V became a founding member of Farming to Fight Hunger, a non-profit organization to increase public awareness of food security issues and improve knowledge of modern agriculture. The Ivy League Farmer is the group's first project.
Diamond V is using The Ivy League Farmer in a non-profit initiative to raise funds to help feed local kids in need. The company sponsored the film's premiere showings, June 5-7, at Theatre Cedar Rapids in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Industry and local sponsors also are stepping up to support Operation BackPack.
Operation BackPack is an all-volunteer, non-profit project that feeds school children who may not get enough to eat over the weekend. The six-county Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) administers Operation BackPack, providing kids in need a backpack containing nutritious food items for the weekend.
Diamond V recognizes food security as a growing concern worldwide. The company is an international leader in nutritional health products for animals and people with offices around the world and sales in nearly 60 countries.
"Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger," Cannon says. "Seven million children starve to death every year. Another 870 million people suffer from malnutrition. In many countries, rapid population growth, fragile ecosystems, and limited natural resources impact people's food supply. In other countries, increasing per capita income means growing demand for food."
Unfortunately, most of the world's land suitable for farming is already in production. What this means, Cannon says, is that an estimated 70 percent of future increases in food production capacity must come from new and improved agricultural technologies. He believes that family entertainment like The Ivy League Farmer can raise public awareness about hunger, modern technology, and the farmers who devote their lives to meeting the growing need for food.
Cannon, who grew up on an Iowa farm, says, "If we show it… they will see!"
Editor's Note: The Ivy League Farmer, directed by Tom Weber, produced by Mark Miller and Frank Miller, starring Randy Wayne, Janine Turner, Terry Serpico: Just graduated from Harvard, Joel Gilbert has a highfalutin job waiting for him on Wall Street. But when he returns home for the summer he discovers his family's dairy farm is in trouble. Joel's Ivy League business skills can help, but his dad is too stubborn to risk investing in the high-tech future of family farming. Joel's problems multiply when he realizes he's falling in love with his childhood sweetheart. However, Holly Kramer's mission in life may or may not include Joel. Many school-age kids in their rural hometown are not getting enough to eat. Besides teaching school, Holly is leading the local fight against food insecurity. Watch the movie trailer at: http://www.diamondv.com/media/farming-to-fight-hunger/.