“We’re very honored to be part of this campaign,” said Chad Bell, a sixth-generation farmer who, along with his family, raises pigs, corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat on their Viola farm. “I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that my family was chosen to be part of it. I’m really happy to be somebody who can help promote Illinois farm families and do what I can to help others realize that we are the family farm and we’re still alive and kicking.”
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The commercial, produced by the Illinois Farm Families coalition, marks the launch of the coalition’s “We are the 96 percent” campaign. The campaign features more than 25 farm families across the state with the goal to make Illinoisans aware that 96 percent of farms in the state are operated by families like the Bells.
Six other farm families will appear in the commercial alongside the Bells: the Gould family, of Kane County, the Heap family, of Kendall County, the Noland family, of Macon County, the Sanderson family of Dekalb County, the Marr family, of Morgan County, and the Kleinschmidt family, of Logan and Tazewell County. The commercial will air during the first half of the Super Bowl LVII in the Champaign, Peoria-Bloomington, Rockford, Springfield, St. Louis and the Quad Cities markets.
“There’s a big misconception in agriculture that the family farm is gone and everything now is corporate farming and things aren’t the way it used to be,” said Bell. “Yes, farming has changed. Farms have gotten larger and there are fewer farmers, but in the end, the vast majority of farms are still made up of families, even if they look a little different today.”
Bell said that the best part of farming is taking his kids along while he works on the farm and watching them learn the importance of agriculture.
The Bell family has been farming in eastern Mercer County since the 1960s. Chad Bell continues working on his family’s farm alongside his father, Greg Bell, who is semi-retired but still plays a strong support role on the farm. Chad Bell is responsible for the day-today decisions on the farm.
The Bell family, along with the other families featured throughout the “We are the 96” campaign, will be profiled on the campaign website, Wearethe96.org. Visitors can view behind-the-scenes footage and learn more about each family, their history on the farm and what their farm looks like today. All families participating will be featured on Illinois Farm Families social media, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts.
Following the on-air debut, the full commercial can be viewed on Illinois Farm Families’ Facebook page and Wearethe96.org.
“It’s a humbling feeling to know that together with my wife and family we were asked to be involved in this,” said Bell. “Helping showcase Illinois family farmers is not easily describable; but being part of the Illinois family farmers — it’s amazing.”
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