Pink Artex spreader draws attention to breast cancer

Connie Sieh Groop
Special to the Farm Forum

How do you spread the word when COVID hits?

When a pink manure spreader catches your eye, it’s hard not to stop and stare. A campaign meant to draw awareness to breast cancer was waylaid because of COVID this year but efforts continue in “Spreading Awareness.”

In collaboration with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Farmers Union began their Spreading Awareness Campaign this spring. The plan was to display a pink Artex manure spreader at various events including State Farmer’s Union Conventions and at some top Artex dealerships around the Midwest.

For generations, the Farmer’s Unions have lent a hand to various causes through legislation, education, and philanthropy. This is the way this organization takes on breast cancer, which is a project of the South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union and Wisconsin Farmers Union.

For those whose families have struggled with the breast cancer diagnosis of a loved one, the idea of a husband, father, and/or brother pulling a pink spreader brings a smile to many faces. One fellow is quoted as saying he saw what his wife went through and he thought a guy pulling a pink spreader really was the least he could do.

Artex manufactures the manure spreaders in Redwood Falls, MN. It is part of Farmers Union Industries, LLC which is owned by Farmers Union Enterprises, made up of the five organizations shown above. Those groups are the ones who are sponsoring the awareness project while Artex produced the spreader.

“We hoped that we would take the spreader to multiple farm shows but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” said Lauren Highland at Farmers Union Industries. “We have been doing a dealer tour where we’ve taken the Artex “Awareness” spreader to different dealerships throughout the country. We have left it in front of their dealerships for up to a month at a time as a photo opportunity and conversation piece for those who stop by and we also provide literature. Big Iron in Fargo was one of the few farm shows where we could have our display. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from those at the show. It’s really shown up on social media.”

She said the display drew the attention of both men and women. People who have driven by the Artex plant have called or written to them when they see it, letting the staff know they saw it and appreciated the support. Anyone who has had a loved one go through cancer treatment seemed willing to share the story of their loved one’s experience.

After Big Iron, Josh South of FUI said they took the spreader to the Ozark Fall Farm Fest. In agreement with National Breast Cancer Foundation, the spreader will be sold July 2021 with 100 percent of the proceeds going to NBCF. South said these types of spreaders generally bring around $50,000 when sold.

South said, “This is a great opportunity to recognize the work that the Farmer’s Unions are doing for family farmers and their communities, while also spreading the word about breast cancer awareness.”

In tandem with the “Spreading Awareness” campaign, FUI has also been featuring breast cancer survivors through their social media pages, Highland said. So far, they have shared the stories of two breast cancer survivors. One is an employee of Farmer’s Union Industries and the other is a Wisconsin Farmers Union member.

Doug Sombke, SD Farmer’s Union president, said, “We are very excited about this project. It’s a great way to provide education regarding the various causes supported through the Farmer’s Unions and to spread awareness on the impactful messaging and work done through the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Due to Covid-19, we aren’t able to get as much public exposure as we would like, however, we are hopeful that through other channels and spring shows that we can still make a positive impact on those affected by breast cancer.”

Sombke also noted that, along with bringing awareness to breast cancer, we as farmers, are excited to share that higher levels of ethanol in gasoline are reducing the carcinogens that contribute to all kinds of cancer, especially respiratory diseases. The higher percentage of ethanol in gasoline has been shown that biofuels like ethanol are the most effective alternative to fossil fuel and a critical tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

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