AmericanFarm.com

Face it: Zero tolerance; zero sense (Editorial)

(June 23, 2015) An advertising program sponsored annually by the Corn Farmers Coalition in the nation’s capital has fallen victim to ISIS paranoia.
The project, which would have placed the photos of America’s farmers and their families in the subway cars and passenger areas in the D.C. area, has been denied access by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority.
The WMATA decided to reject all “issues and advocacy” advertising and somehow deemed that ads telling riders about the nation’s corn farmers fell into that category
Here’s the story: For the last seven years, many Washington-area residents have marked the arrival of summer by the appearance of family farmers’ faces in the subway cars and stations of the city’s massive Metro complex.
This year they are likely to be looking at fragrance ads and empty advertising spaces, given the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority’s rejection of the Corn Farmers Coalition’s well-known annual campaign. The ads began to go up as scheduled, but installation was halted and the ads removed following the WMATA decision.
The determination came after a controversial political group sought to place ads in the Metro featuring a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, a drawing similarly linked to deadly violence in Texas and Boston.
“This is a disappointing development to say the least,” said Dan Nerud, a farmer from Dorchester, Neb., and director of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.  
He noted the Corn Farmers Coalition simply highlights “the improving practices and technology that have allowed us to become the most productive farmers in the world.”
Hardly a provocative assertion.
While the ad campaign is moving forward, with digital and traditional print ads in the major news publications in the Washington area, the large-scale ads in heavily trafficked Metro stations around Capitol Hill had become the most recognized element of the campaign.
“This direct outreach puts a face on today’s family farmers and raises overall awareness with legislators, leaders of governmental agencies, think tanks, lobbyists and environmental groups,” said Dennis Maple, president of Indiana Corn Marketing Council and farmer from Greentown, Ind. “Awareness of the innovation, technology, and generations of accumulated knowledge represented by family farmers should be a part of our national dialogue about agriculture and food.”
The decision by the transit authority coupling corn farmer portraits with a cartoon depiction of the prophet Muhammad is beyond comprehension.
Hey, banning the plastering of the Muhammad’s picture all over the subway system is probably a wise decision, based upon recent tragic incidents in other parts of the country spurred by public depictions of the Islamic prophet.
But we can find nothing in the corn farmers’ campaign to suggest that it should have to suffer the MWATA penalty.
It’s not too late for the transit authority to rethink its decision.
We would urge it to do so, and then, flee the city at harvest time and ride a combine with a farmer. It would be good therapy.