McDonald’s Launches Farmer Ad Campaign

Have you seen the latest commercials from America’s favorite burger chain? McDonald’s launched its new ad campaign on January 2nd to emphasize the quality of ingredients and a farm to fork story. The ads feature four farmers (secondary suppliers) that produce potatoes, lettuce, and beef for the restaurant chain.

The cattle rancher featured in the above ad is Illinois cattleman and former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Steve Foglesong. Foglesong raises cattle with his family on reclaimed coal mine ground in central Illinois. The Black Gold Ranch and Feedlot consists of 5,200 acres and is home to 1,200 beef cows and capacity for 4,000 feeder cattle. Foglesong emphasizes family cooperation, rotational grazing, and a commitment to agriculture as a whole in this BEEF Magazine article from 2010.

McDonald’s Lettuce Supplier, Dirk Giannini: “Field to Fork”

McDonald’s Potato Supplier, Frank Martinez: “Dream Come True”

McDonald's launches farmer advertisement campaign foodI think the ad campaign is a good move in the direction of transparency and connecting consumers with the farming origins of the food we eat. The farmers share a bit about their dedication to family, the land and environment, and making sure they produce quality food. As with most new campaigns from large companies, there will be critics. Some question the honesty and motive of the ads, while others tie it right back into the big food company controversies.

What are your thoughts on the McDonald’s Farmer Ads?


  1. I think it’s great. Anything positive that bridges the disconnect between farmer and the consumer is welcome. As long as they don’t say their way of producing our food is the best way. We are all in this together and we need to support each other, not create controversy. I like the fact the beef in this ad is produced using both feedlot and rotational grazing. This is a start.

  2. I agree with Caryl. As a lifelong farmer, I think a lot of our problem comes not from what we do on the farm, but from the disconnect between those producing the food and those eating it. There will still be people who disagree, no mater what the method, but it’s nice to see large-scale farming portrayed in a positive light reaching the masses instead of just horror stories via those animal abuse videos that have been so popular lately.

    As a farmer, it seems so obvious – of course I love animals and the land – why else would I do what I do every day? The more I talk to those not in agriculture though, the more I realize it’s not obvious to them at all.

    1. As a farmer, you must treat your animals and land well or it will not produce. Big city born and raised, I have been in ag most of my adult life, first as an Angus breeder, later as my husband managed a 3,000 head feedlot 40 miles from Washington, D.C., as the mother of 4-Hers, secretary of the state Angus Assoc., on the state cattlemen’s association and on the beef board, and, for the past 30+ years, a journalist on a regional agricultural weekly. I am in contact with large and small farmers, Extension, the Universities and the new technology ag uses today. Our biggest problems are 1. the disconnect with consumers who are generations removed from ag, and 2. those out there who have little or no knowledge of what food production is all about and rant against everything ag does from the treatment of livestock to hormones, etc., and continue to get the ear of the media to help spread their lies and misunderstandings. We need a much louder voice or we will be eating nothing but Chinese. Scary thought!

  3. I am very pleased with McDonalds’ new campaign strategy. They have done an excellent job allowing the farmers and ranchers to tell the real story behind the high-quality products they supply to consumers. I am particuarly glad that McDonalds has made these efforts because of their significant presence around the world.

  4. The ads are impressive. I have friends in the cattle business who think they’re just damage control, however, as McDonald’s buys much of its beef from overseas and has taken a lot of heat for it. Have you heard this? Could it just be smoke and mirrors? I don’t know.

    1. Hey mizvaldes,
      Mickey D’s has an answer for you! And from talking with some of their VPs and processors, I wouldn’t hesitate in the truth of their desire to source as much beef as possible from local sources. I know more about the Canadian side, but from what’s on their site and what I’ve heard in the processor side, I think it’s safe to have faith in their claims. (just to be clear, the link I posted was for the USA McD)

  5. Hi, Ryan! Thanks for asking the question. Since I work in ag, I’m naturally a big fan of farmers and good, positive communication efforts, and the premise of the commercials (as well as their execution) would seem to be just the ticket. However, the jaded consumer in me immediately thought, “Well! I’ve never seen lettuce that looks like that on MY McDonald burger.” I’m not sure that the messages and images from the commercials are melding convincingly with what most of us experience at McDonalds. I think one big problem is convincing consumers that you’re now all about quality and freshness when you’ve spent years convincing them that you’re all about cheap prices. As the old natural gas commercial said, “Hot, fast and cheap.”

  6. I am going with smoke and mirrors on this one. These commercials are designed to suck people in and make them believe that their food is HEALTHY. They are just a huge conglomerate showing us how “healthy” and “straight from the farm” their food supposedly is. The commercials are beautifully done and highlight some great family farms, I can give them that much though.

  7. HEALTHY? I am a nurse and producer. these highly processed foods and antibiotic fed nation are only stimulating “healthy” business for big pharma and big government.

    y’all eat what you want, we should have that choice for foodfreedom.

    I’m going to keep raising and processing my own meats and produce.

    1. Thanks for the comment Charlotte, and I completely agree with food choice. This is America and all of agriculture is in the same business – producing food.

      But, before you label all of these “highly processed foods” as antibiotic ridden, you should realize farmers, as a whole, are very judicious in medicine and chemical use.

      1. I am constantly amazed at the amount of misinformation and lack of information out there. This woman is a nurse and she makes these statements? Isn’t it amazing that despite all these ‘horrible’ things producers are doing to our food – antibiotics, additives, genetically altering, adding hormones, etc., people are living amazingly longer than they were even 50 years ago, and living much healthier lives.

      2. This conversation is making me hungry for a Big Mac, or my favorite an Angus burger. But I don’t go to McDonald any more for a number of reasons, including the poor nutritional quality of the food, and their management practices. (One Angus burger exceeds an entire day’s fat intake, as well as sodium and cholesterol.)

        It is a great ad campaign though, if only if didn’t involve McDonalds. The idea that farmers produce healthy food is a good one. I believe it. But I’m frustrated by the indistry’s refusal to tell consumers about the medications and chemicals they use, if they produce or use GMOs in production. If its okay to use, why can’t they tell us.

        Personally, I don’t worry too much about what I eat. But I am very concerned about what my grandchildren eat. At my age, for the majority of my life I ate food that I trusted, and I don’t have that much longer to go that I’m concerned about accumulated fat-soluble chemicals, hormones, etc. But I am concerned that my 11 year old granddaughter has been eating food for her entire life that was produced in a manner that I don’t trust. And my 5 year old grandson has been consumed chemicals that I know would interfere with the development of his reproductive organs, if I let it continue. I produce almost all the beef, pork, lamb and poultry my family eats, and I don’t let them eat at McDonalds.

        So, Caryl, “this women” Charlotte got it right. As you say we’re living longer, but we’re not healthy. 1 in 3 Americans is overweight. That’s not healthy. Another 1 in 3 is obese. That’s not healthy. In WV, OK, MS, LA, KY, AL it’s even higher. In those same states 1 in 10 Americans has behavior related diabetes. That’s not healthy. I am 30 pounds overweight, but over and over fat Americans embarrased that they’re fatter than me and doing nothing about it, tell me that I’m not overweight and I don’t need to diet. That’s not healthy; that’s not respectful, that’s not Christian.

        Food freedom is a nifty term, but meaningless. (I can’t serve wine to my minor children as part of dinner, for example.) It’s also meaningless if I don’t know and can’t buy based on the chemical residues in the foods I buy. That’s a decision left for the chemical companies, not consumers. I do trust most farmers. I don’t trust the agricultural indistry. So eat what you want; define “healthy” as you choose. And I’ll keep out of McDonalds; I’ll keep away from grocery stores, except with caution and facts.

  8. I didn’t mean to label the farmers in that way. I was referring to people popping pills as a result of poor diet. nutrition us fundamental is promoting good health.

    but how can a industry that uses 80% of the antibiotics claim to be judicious in it’s administration?

    1. Thanks for the clarification on that Charlotte. I just read it wrong I guess. And yes, we do pop a lot of unnecessary pills and supplements when we should be making better diet selections.

    2. yeah they’re living longer…being kept alive by medications for chronic illnesses directly related to the crap food we eat.

      and the social security system and medicare (taxpayers) have to foot the bill for much of these “improvements” to our quality of life.

      NOT to mention the taxpayers who are paying to subsidize the agricultural industry for the sake of cheaply produced food will ultimately cost them their lives d/t complications from obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer.

      yes, I am a nurse and I dare to make these statements.

  9. I just saw this commercial today, and I was completely outraged. I am all for connecting people with their food, and that’s why I never eat at McDonalds. Are they suggesting that their burgers are made from grass-fed pastured beef?! That’s ludicrous. We know most of it comes from confined animal feeding operations, complete with cows standing knee-deep in their excrement and eating nothing but feed made from cheap corn, and being pumped full of antibiotics. There is very little food in a McDonalds meal. I advocate small farms, sustainably-raised meats, and practices that don’t destroy our environment. Very misleading advertising, but why am I not surprised?

    1. Actually, No Brande that’s not what McDonald’s is suggesting. If you’d watch the entire video, Mr Foglesong’s ranch also has a cattle finishing operation. Go back and watch the video and read the links.
      My full response to each part of you comment will be available here

      1. Hey Ryan, this might be a bit unrelated to the comment string here, but would you have any thoughts on the fact floating around that cattle spend 70-80% of their life on grass, regardless of what they get labelled as in the end? My quick math says a minimum for beef would be 50% and that duration isn’t really the issue with dislike of CFO, but the numbers geek in me is curious…

  10. The misleading part is letting the consumer believe or think that he is eating what he sees in the ad. He is not. McDonald’s changes the product they purchase. A McDonald’s hamburger has 520 mg of sodium – much higher than what occurs naturally in beef. Therein lies the problem and the deception. Salt, fat, and sugar have addictive qualities and keep us coming back for the McDonald’s food. Using this nice gentleman farmer to pimp the product is the travesty.

    1. The other issue is that McDonalds does not buy directly from farmers…they buy from large conglomerates who at some point buy from farmers. The farmers get screwed because it’s the conglomerate that makes the big margins. In addition, the meat the conglomerate sells contains meat from this farmer as well as hundreds of others, so the consumer doesn’t know what they are really eating. They get screwed too. The “meat” is then “processed”, adding all this stuff and then it’s transported hundreds of miles away. This is not local eating.

  11. This is such garbage. Anyone who thinks that McDonalds actually gets their ground beef from free range, grass fed cows should go work for the USDA. Wake up people. As a corporation who cares solely about profits through mass production, there is no way that they care about the welfare of animals or the health of people around the world. I really hope that people start taking their health into their own hands, and start researching about where their food comes from. It is certainly not from the green pastures that McDonalds, Purdue, Tyson, and so many other corporations claim to have.

    1. Thank you for the comment on my “garbage” Rachael. You will probably find the next several posts pretty informative. I address many of these topics and continue to write on the subjects.

  12. I think this is an excellent example of meeting consumer expectations, and the commentary here couldn’t have been more exemplary!

    Over the past few days I’ve been musing over how ag-vocate media is a neat thing, but sometimes misses the mark for part of the population. Which you can see in the discussion here. Responses range from “woot woot!” to “ahem, they’re just lying…again”. And I agree with them all.

    Maybe it’s just my Canadian “see all sides of the story” way…..but regardless, I think this video is failing on the expectations part. They’re setting themselves up to fail actually. And you can see that in the replies here. Within the posts here you see discussion of what is really in the burgers, where the cattle are actually finished (which is in the video) and the intricate realities of modern production that seem to fly in the face of the moral undertone of the video.

    Basically, I see this type of agvocate video like, in a rough way, calling a dog to come then yelling at it when you get there. Do this repeatedly and you’ll have a dog that is either very anxious in dealing with you and/or the opposite of a happy fella. And that’s what this type of video does for our consumers or those not so intimately involved with beef production.

    The video shows some of the great happy parts of beef production, but when people come to see what’s going on with beef they can get a different, more negative, twist to the story. That negative story is often improperly informed and purely marketing from anti-beef sides, but it is there none the less. So we’ve said “come” in a lovely, inviting way, but we’re not necessarily meeting the expectations when they arrive. No wonder people get anxious when big beef business is brought up eh?

    I do love the video though. Stand-alone it is beautifully shot, really gets out the message about how some producers feel about what they are doing and how they care for their animals with so much passion it makes me choke up sometimes that there is such a high level of stewardship ingrained in parts of the production culture, and that’s getting to be more widespread (or maybe just more openly talked about). But in the context of “big picture” of ag-vocating, I think it creates some challenges in the current situation. But there might be some solutions for that.

  13. If you want good wholesome food, buy it directly from the producers in these ads. Dont eat it after McD has turned it into garbage!

    1. That’s the great thing about choice. We can buy directly from farmers if we choose to do so, but there’s no need to call McD’s food garbage. Personal choice, don’t bash those you dislike.

      1. You must work for McDonald’s dude, no real person is, or at least, should defend them it’s a load of BS.

  14. First let me state, having lived with a cattle feeder for many years and visited many feedlots, I have never seen cattle standing up to their bellies or anywhere else in excrement and it is a known fact that overuse of antibiotics comes from self medication not from the food we eat. It’s too bad farmers can’t go on strike and withhold their product from the market. I just don’t understand why these people keep attacking the hand that feeds them. The obesity problem in this country does not come from McDonald’s but from a lifestyle of less and less exercise and no knowledge of proper nutrition. And I don’t know why I continue to argue with people who don’t want to hear truth or the facts.

  15. Sorry, I should have said ‘repeated and misuse by humans’ of antibiotics not self-medication.

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