September 26, 2019, marks the start of Luke Bryan’s 11th annual Farm Tour, and its fifth in partnership with Bayer. In a recent interview with AGDAILY, Bryan and Ray Kerins, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Bayer, were both reflecting upon years past and looking toward the future of the successful tour. While this tour is popular because of Bryan’s superstardom and music, it is all about helping to fight hunger in America and demonstrate the hard work our farmers and ranchers do.
Bryan just renewed his partnership with Bayer for three more years. From the first tour to now Bryan has gone from about 1,700 people in attendance to 20,000 a night. Bayer has also seen great success in its #Herestothefarmer campaign from 1,000 meals to 1 million meals a year.
“It’s a social campaign where, if you hashtag #Herestothefarmer on any social media, we will donate a meal to a hungry American through Feeding America,” Kerins explained. He said in regards to their anti-hunger campaign and its growth since partnering with Bryan, “That’s a million meals for Americans who didn’t know where their food was coming from previously and as we all know, those meals are coming from great places like farms where we are celebrating the Farm Tour, so it’s a great connection.”
The decision to partner with Luke Bryan was a rare exception, since Bayer doesn’t do a lot of celebrity endorsements.
During the interview, Kerins told the story about being approached with the opportunity to work with Bryan and meeting him for the first time in order to discuss the project further.
“We started talking about contracts and different things like that,” Kerins said. “It eventually got to the point where I said, you know what, I like the idea, but I want to meet him because I want to understand who we are partnering with. The moment I met him, I knew he was a genuine person who believes in what he’s doing. I have not been disappointed since day one, he’s a great partner.”
This partnership has brought great things for communities all across the Midwest and southern states. Included at each tour stop is a $5,000 voucher for Bayer products for one lucky farmer, an idea given by Bryan himself. Furthermore, a donation is made to a local charity or food bank, and about 150 college scholarships have been awarded at this point.
“It’s a way to give back to society and to all the American farmers and all the great fans out there who believe in what Luke is doing and believe in the opportunity to give back.”
“The moment I met [Bryan], I knew he was a genuine person who believes in what he’s doing. I have not been disappointed since day one.” — Ray Kerins, Bayer
“I can’t believe I can say I’ve done anything for 11 years, minimally successful, but we have been an amazing time with the Farm Tour,” Bryan stated “I am so honored to be able to attach my name to something so positive, where we know hungry Americans are out there getting meals. We have always tried to leave these communities better than we found them.”
There is a team in the spring that travels every year to determine where the farm tour locations will be during the fall. They look for sites that have ease of set up, and if fans can get in and out of the farm easily. The Farm Tour team calls various land owners and meets the farmers to educate the community on what the tour’s purpose is — and then sets a date!
Bryan aims to put farmers in a positive light and demonstrate the hard work that goes into farming despite any negative reporting from the media. “Hopefully, the Farm Tour can show the positives of what the American Farmer can do. I think at the end of the day, these guys are waking up, putting in 20-hour days, and I don’t understand how you can spin a lot of negativity with the American farmer, ’cause it’s people working really tough situations and tough jobs. They are feeding the world, and you have to celebrate their love for their craft and what they are doing and just try to build them up while educating the community and the public.”
Kerins also mentioned that, as part of their goal to show what life on a farm is like and to educate the public about farmers, they created mini documentaries for farms where Bryan performed. Miller Family Farms and Staz Bros Inc. were the two farms featured. “Unless you have actually seen the inner workings of a farm yourself, you don’t truly understand what they are doing.”
This is the ultimate goal of the Farm Tour — to recognize and respect the American farmer.
Be sure to check out the locations and dates of this year’s tour at www.lukebryan.com and remember to share the hashtag #Herestothefarmer on social media!
Markie Hageman majored in agribusiness at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her AGDAILY articles can be found here.