The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and the Iowa State University (ISU) Athletics Department have launch­­ed a new partnership to share the story of today’s farm families, show the importance of agriculture to Iowa’s economy and recognize the exceptional student athletes who embody the character and work ethic of the Iowa farmer, both on and off the field.

The partnership, in collabor­ation with Cyclone Sports Prop­erties, Iowa State’s multimedia rights holder, was announced at a Jan. 5 press conference at ISU. It builds on Farm Bureau’s ongoing Farm Strong® initiative, which is designed to connect consumers with today’s farmers to build trust and understanding. In addition, the partnership will help to raise money for Iowa’s food banks.

"By teaming up with Iowa State’s many successful athletics programs, we are able to showcase the ‘Farm Strong’ character of Iowa’s farmers with a whole new audience of consumers; ISU fans who want to know more about how their food, fuel and fiber is grown," said Craig Hill, IFBF president. "More and more consumers are removed from the farm, so it’s understandable that they have questions about today’s agriculture."

Farming may look different today than in years’ past, but the Iowa farm values — hard work, commitment and integrity — have not changed, Hill said. "Those are the same characteristics shared by many Iowans. The partnership with Iowa State is one more way Iowa farmers are trying to provide answers," he said.

Farm Strong team

In addition to creating dialogue with consumers about farming today, ISU head coaches will select one individual from their respective Cyclone teams to be part of a Farm Strong squad.

The squad will be an elite group of student-athletes who exemplify the perseverance, work ethic, and character of the Iowa farmer, the same qualities that have helped Iowa remain a leading agriculture state in the nation, Hill said.

One team member will be honored at the end of the year as the Farm Strong captain at the annual Iowa State Student-Athlete Awards banquet.

"We are proud to partner with Farm Bureau and recognize the achievements of our Farm Strong squad members," said ISU Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard. "We plan to feature the student-athlete squad and Iowa’s Farm Strong families in various ways throughout the year, including a special display inside Hilton Coliseum, which we’ve recently unveiled, as well as radio, TV, a specialized website and through social media. Fans will also have a chance to win some great prizes."

Hilton displays

Fans at ISU’s Hilton Coliseum will also have an opportunity to celebrate Farm Strong families featured during select basketball games with video board graphics and messages.

"More than 90 percent of Iowa’s 88,637 farms are family-owned, and we are excited to showcase the videos featuring Iowa farm families to Cyclone fans and provide a snapshot into Iowa agriculture and the families who raise our food, fuel and fiber," said Hill.

More than 33 percent of Iowa’s total economic output came from agriculture in 2012, and one in every five Iowans is employed in agriculture and ag-related industries, according to the in-depth study of 2012 Census of Agriculture and regional economic statistics commissioned by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF).

In 2012, agriculture accounted for nearly 419,000 jobs, an increase of almost 87,000 jobs since 2007, the study showed.

"We are pleased to have Iowa State Athletics partnering with us to celebrate the men and women who go the extra mile to not only grow safe, wholesome food, but to protect the land and legacy of rural Iowa," Hill said.

Benefiting food banks

The collaboration between IFBF and Iowa State Athletics will also benefit the Iowa Food Bank Association through donations and sales of Farm Strong merchandise.

Fans can purchase Cyclone-themed Farm Strong merchandise and apparel from Cy’s Locker Room beginning this week and online within a few weeks.

To learn more about the Farm Strong program, visit