“In worn out jeans and an old work shirt, a baseball cap that wears the dirt of years of tough work, stands the American farmer. Humble as a man you’ll ever come across, lives by his words and knows the cost of how fast it’s won or lost; that’s the American farmer,” crooned country music star Steve Azar in a tribute song written for U.S. food producers at the South Dakota FFA Convention recently in Brookings, S.D.
Azar, also known for his hit songs, “I Don’t Have To Be Me Til Monday,” and “Waiting on Joe,” penned the song, “American Farmer,” for a fundraising event.
“It was at a charity fundraiser that I first met some of the folks from Swenson Investments and Commodities. A month later, Brad Swenson asked if I would write a song about farmers that would show our appreciation. I said I was in. My passion for farmers can be heard in the song. In its purest form, the American farmer represents everything that’s good. It was a Blessing to write this song, “God Bless.” said Steve Azar.
Swenson Investment and Commodities, based out of Huron and Sioux Falls, S.D., teamed up with Azar to develop a fundraiser to benefit the future of American agriculture — the young people involved in the South Dakota FFA. The song started playing on the Sioux Falls-based radio station, KIKN 100.5, and it officially debuted at the state’s annual FFA convention. The song is gaining popularity across the state, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s heard on radio stations across the nation.
In its modest start, however, limited edition CD’s were sold for $5, with a percent of the money benefiting the South Dakota FFA Foundation. CD’s are available at: http://Shop.SteveAzar.com/American-Farmer-CD-CD-AmFarmer.htm “American Farmer” is also available on iTunes.
The chorus of the song has a powerful message: “And no matter the rain, heat or snow, he wakes up before the break of dawn, works as hard as the day is long, and like a mother cares for her child, he’ll cling to his precious land, readies those fields and sews the seeds, with his own two fists, he’ll fight the weeds and wears his coat of sweat, like it’s some kind of armor. That’s the American farmer.”
“It’s much more than a song — ‘American Farmer’ is about a lifestyle that many of our FFA members feel and experience everyday,” said Paul Dybedahl, the state’s 2011-12 FFA president. “It’s such a great feeling to know that there are others out there who believe in and support not only agriculture but the FFA. There was a lot of buzz about Steve coming to the convention, and when it was finally time for him to come on stage, the crowd went wild! Members were also very excited to have their copy of ‘American Farmer’ and have it signed by Steve. He is a very down-to-earth guy, and he told me he comes from a small town where a lot of his friends have farms. It was really great to see his support and have him at our convention. This song will have a huge impact on our organization.”
At last count, the song has generated more than $6,000 for the South Dakota FFA Foundation, with additional requests pouring in to the state office, according to Foundation Executive Director Gerri Eide.
“The support of Steve Azar, and Swenson Investment and Commodities of Sioux Falls is making an immediate impact on the South Dakota FFA,” said Eide. “The outreach, awareness and positive publicity for agriculture education and FFA is key. Our organization advocates for all those involved in agriculture and the future of agriculture — from production to consumption. In addition, the financial support from the song to enhance the events and scholarship we provide is greatly appreciated.”
Eide said the enthusiasm about Azar’s appearance and performance at convention was electric.
“Students love the song; it’s a totally new twist on convention to have a country music star there to sing,” she said. “Members lined up to have their CD’s signed before and after he sang. Of course, he received a standing ovation for his performance.”
To support the South Dakota FFA, Eide encourages everyone to purchase the CD, request the song on the radio, subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter of the FFA Foundation and remind school boards about the importance of agriculture education and FFA.
“It’s important school boards and administrators understand the importance of high school agriculture education and the FFA program,” she stressed. “In these times of tight school budgets and schools cutting classes, they need to know community members demand agriculture education be part of their schools.”
“Agriculture is our future,” she added. “Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country. Agriculture education and FFA teach leadership and encourage youth to be life long learners in the careers they choose. With fewer people in the U.S. coming from an agricultural background, it’s more important than ever that our agriculturalists be leaders in their community, state and nation. Our leaders need to understand the critical value of agriculture – that is what agriculture education and FFA do.”
Without a doubt, Steve Azar’s “American Farmer” will soon be a hit across the country, and his support of the future of American agriculture will not likely be forgotten.
The last chorus of the song reads, “He’s a gambler, like none you’ve ever seen, let’s it all ride on a field of dreams, just prays for the strength to keep her going. An extension of God’s own hands, handed down yet once again, carries the torch and the plan of the American farmer. That’s the American farmer.” ❖