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Do you know the “farmer wave”?

Collins and Branstad
Now that election season is over, and I can finally watch a football game on TV without the negative political ads, we can get back to celebrating the “Iowa values” that the candidates liked to boast about.

And there isn’t a better reflection of our Iowa nice values than the state’s farm families and the rural communities that support them.

Whenever I get the chance to visit a farm, I typically end up driving down a dusty, or muddy, gravel road. I can’t hide the fact that I’m a city slicker with my Polk County license plate and my barely-above-a-crawl speed.

As I move over to the right shoulder to make room for a truck driving in the opposite direction, that’s when I get the “farmer wave.” The driver lifts one or two fingers from the steering wheel to say hello. Of course, I can’t resist waving back.

My brother-in-law, Todd Collins, grew up on a family farm in Carroll County, where everyone gave the “farmer wave.”

Today, Collins works as the morning host at the country radio station KIX 101.1 in Marshalltown. He’s always telling his listeners about strange holidays, like Talk like a Pirate Day, as conversational fodder for the show.

So he figured, why not start a “Farmer Wave Week,” encouraging everyone to wave like a farmer to spread a little kindness, whether you live in the city or the country.

“You would be amazed at what a simple farmer wave can do to make someone’s day,” Collins said.

Collins contacted Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey’s staff with his idea, and they suggested he submit a request for an official state proclamation declaring “Farmer Wave Week.” Less than 24 hours later, Collins found out that the Gov. Terry Branstad had approved his request.

The governor proclaimed Nov. 9-15 as Farmer Wave Week in Iowa. Branstad even demonstrated his one-finger “farmer wave” before signing the proclamation.

Branstad noted that it was Iowa’s reputation as a friendly, welcoming state that brought China’s President Xi Jinping back to Iowa in 2012, nearly 30 years after he first toured the state on an exchange trip.

In honor of Farmer Wave Week, Collins and KIX 101.1 are encouraging all their listeners to start “farm-waving” when they pass each other on the roads.

The radio station posted a fun video on Facebook of Collins demonstrating the farmer wave. So far, the video has gained more than 330,000 views on Facebook.

Folks from California, Texas, Boston, Alaska and, amazingly, India have commented on the video – thus, proving that the farmer wave is an international sign of good-neighborliness.

Collins says he hopes that Farmer Wave Week becomes an annual event. “We need to return to our farmer roots and appreciate all the (farmers) do to get back to the niceness and friendliness that Iowa is known for,” Collins said.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's Senior Features Writer.