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Iowa steps up support of farmers

[ 0 ] August 5, 2011 |

A new partnership with Hawkeye football aims to raise awareness of the need for farmers in America.

The University of Iowa and Iowa Farm Bureau announced the partnership on Friday to support “America Needs Farmers,” an initiative started by former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry during the Farm Crisis in the 1980s.

“We wanted to capitalize on the brand, and bring it forward to the next generation,” said Craig Lang, who is president of the Iowa Farm Bureau and president of the Iowa state Board of Regents.

The space between the west and north grandstands of Kinnick Stadium will be designated “ANF Plaza.” The plaza will eventually include a bronze plaque describing Fry’s initiative and an ANF Wall of Fame to honor Iowa football players who “exemplify the tenacity, work ethic and character of the American farmer.”

Iowa football will also have an annual ANF Day, and the partnership will include a merchandise agreement that will pair the Tiger Hawk and ANF logos. A portion of the royalties generated from sales will go to Iowa food banks, among other charities. The Iowa Farm Bureau logo will not appear on merchandise, although it was listed as such in a university news release, Lang said.

The partnership is detailed in a five-year renewable lease contract, Lang said. Lang referred questions about the value of the contract to Iowa Farm Bureau’s general counsel. Officials with the university, the regents and Farm Bureau did not comply with requests for that information or a copy of the contract on Friday.

As regent president, Lang has oversight of the University of Iowa, including the athletics department and its budget. Lang said he has been aware of discussions about the partnership since January, but has avoided involvement.

“I stayed pretty much hands-off, but those things don’t happen without my knowledge. I was hands-off until today,” he said. “I am keenly aware of conflict of interests, especially now with me as Board of Regents president that I don’t show any special attention to one school.”

Lang said a Farm Bureau staff member noticed the ANF logo on apparel at Scheels and traced it back to the university. He said the partnership picked up momentum in April or May. Gov. Terry Branstad called for former regent president David Miles to step down in May, and at Branstad’s urging Lang was elected regent president in July.

“We talked about this. We have a conflict of interest policy that excludes me from any discussion on cost or projects like this that involve the universities. I was aware of what was going on and approved it because it’s about American farmers, but when it came to the agreement contract, I wasn’t part of it,” Lang said.

Lang said the Iowa Farm Bureau is involved with similar programs at Iowa State University, such as a Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers food stand outside Jack Trice Stadium, and has similar partnership contracts with the Iowa High School Athletics Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletics Union.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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