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Contest offers free groceries, chicken and ice cream for a year

A soybean is shown.
A soybean is shown. (Submitted Photo, Carroll County Times)

You might not know soybean and beef cattle farmer Mike Harrison, of Woodbine, but he could be your ticket to free groceries for a year.

A group of mid-Atlantic farmers and farm organizations is offering a contest with prizes including free groceries, free Perdue chicken or free Turkey Hill ice cream for a year.

All that prospective entrants have to do to be eligible for the contest is live in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware or Washington, visit the website http://www.farmersfeedus.org and watch a 30-second video about a mid-Atlantic farmer, then fill out the entry form.

After filling out the form, the entrant can opt to watch another short video answering a trivia question posed in the first video, and click on another video for a brief tour of the farmer's operation.

Harrison is one of 10 farmers from the mid-Atlantic featured on the website. In his tour video, Harrison describes how his family has been farming for seven generations, and how he and his family grow soybeans, corn and barley on their 600-acre farming operation in Woodbine. He also has a herd of about 40 beef cattle, which he feeds through rotational grazing supplemented with a custom grain feed that he grows and mixes right on his farm.

Harrison became involved with the contest because he is on the board of directors for the Maryland Soybean Board, one of the contest's sponsors. He said the videos were shot in October, and he is surprised how many people have seen them since the contest opened in January. Even when he was purchasing a new vehicle in Columbia, a woman told him she recognized him but wasn't sure why.

When he asked if she had been on the Farmers Feed Us website, she confirmed that was how she knew him.

"It's been real neat," Harrison said. "[The purpose of the website] is to show that farmers have a family and little bit about what we're doing on the farm and that we're people in their community."

Susanne Zilberfarb, executive director of the Delaware Soybean Board and coordinator of the mid-Atlantic contest, said there have been Farmers Feed Us contests in several other states, mostly in the Midwest, which led her and Maryland Soybean Board executive director Sandy Davis to look into bringing the contest to their respective states. Deciding it would be easier to pay for the contest promotion if the states banded together with other states in the mid-Atlantic region, they were able to gather 19 agricultural organizations on board to support the contest.

In addition to the free groceries for a year that is standard in all Farmers Feed Us contests, which has a $5,000 value, the mid-Atlantic contest will pick two additional winners from each state for a year of free Perdue chicken, a $520 value; and a year of free Turkey Hill ice cream, a value of $250, Zilberfarb said. Both of those companies were glad to join the contest when approached by the coordinators, she said.

As for the groceries, the contest will work with the winners to see what grocery stores are available in their hometown and award the prize in grocery store gift cards, she said.

The agricultural organizations are already impressed with the number of registrants they have had - more than 54,000 in the first 17 days. Entrants can register up to 10 times per day by registering through each of the 10 farmer profiles on the website.

Zilberfarb said they are already planning to do another contest in the future, and registrants will be given an option while filling out the online entry form to click a box to receive notifications about upcoming contests and other related promotions.

But the most important goal is to help the public learn about regional farming and farmers, she said. The mid-Atlantic contest features farmers who grow soybeans, grain, mushrooms, watermelon, chicken, eggs, dairy and pork.

"The idea behind the sweepstakes is to get people to realize that farmers are people too, and they work in their communities and support their communities and enjoy having the family on the farm and all that," she said. "I think a lot of pride is really evident in the work they do."

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