Like a talented singer and his band, Missouri's agriculture industry is working in harmony these days to defend farmers' livelihoods and raise awareness of issues affecting agriculture. After numerous natural and unnatural disasters hit the state in the spring and summer of 2011, the need to work together became greater than ever.
On a hot summer day in July, the Cook family and farm crew, volunteers, farmers, business people and musicians all came together to lend their support for Missouri's flood and storm disaster victims and achieve greater harmony. The event was the Missouri Farmers Care coalition benefit concert, held July 16 at The Farm of Garden City.
At the end of the day, the caring group raised more than $55,000. Proceeds will be directed to suffering Missouri farmers and rural families through the MFC disaster aid fund.
Bill Cook and his family hosted the benefit concert and auction, which featured the Bransen Ireland Band, Candy Coburn Band, Adam Dean and Chrome, and Western Automatic. Corporate sponsors included APAC, NECO Seeds, Heritage Tractor of Harrisonville and Auto Mart.
The Cooks and colleague John Ortiz, Ag Team Professional general manager, Garden City, took the opportunity to kick off the "No MO Flooding – We Do Give a Dam" campaign at the July 16 event. The campaign is a farmer protest to end intentional flooding of river bottom farmland in Missouri. T-shirts and caps are being sold, with proceeds aiding flood disaster victims.
"It's heartwarming to see our ag community come together to help disaster victims," Bill Cook said. "The Missouri Farmers Care coalition is helping create awareness of why agriculture is important in our state. It's the first time in history that all the commodity groups have come together in a proactive way."
This month's Missouri Ruralist Web Exclusive video features comments from two state leaders who attended the benefit concert, Sen. Ron Richard of Joplin, whose hometown was devastated by a F5 tornado in May, and Rep. Rick Brattin of Harrisonville. Both address why it's important for neighbors to help neighbors when disasters strike. Bransen Ireland's original song, Fly Around" performed by his band at the concert, serves as background music as scenes from the Mississippi and Missouri River flooding and Joplin tornado destruction are shown.
More disaster aid is needed. Future fundraisers are planned at the Missouri State Fair on Missouri Farmers Care Day, Tuesday, Aug. 16, and at the Oktoberfest in Hermann.