© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Eureka farm family will be featured in a Super Bowl ad. Here's why

The Leman family runs a third-generation family farm raising corn, soybeans, and pigs in Eureka. The family will be featured in a regional Super Bowl ad highlighting family farmers.
Courtesy Illinois Farm Families
The Leman family runs a third-generation family farm raising corn, soybeans, and pigs in Eureka. The family will be featured in a regional Super Bowl ad highlighting family farmers.

A Woodford County farm family will be featured in a television advertisement that will air sometime during Super Bowl XVIII, which is set for kickoff at 5:30 p.m. this Sunday, February 11 on CBS.

Chad Leman, a hog, corn and soybean producer and owner of Leman Farms east of Eureka, will be pictured along with his family on their third-generation farm in the regional ad, which is sponsored by Illinois Farm Families (IFF).

“IFF (includes) Illinois pork, beef, dairy, soy, corn and soy commodity groups, or what we call the barnyard groups, along with the Illinois Farm Bureau. The group works to convey a message that represents all aspects of agriculture in a sort of a universal way. Over the course of the past year they have put together a number of commercials that people around here have probably seen a number of times. The commercials highlight the generational aspects of a number of (Illinois) farms,” said Leman, who recently added a 4th generation to his farming legacy when his daughter, Tessa, returned to the farm to work primarily with the family’s seed business.

IFF’s primary promotional campaign, “We Are The 96,” was unveiled to highlight the fact that 96 percent of farms in Illinois remain family-owned, contrary to the widely held belief that most farms are corporate or foreign-owned.

“What’s difficult for the public to differentiate is the fact that though many of these farms are very large, it does not necessarily mean they are not family owned. It just means that for the next generation to be able to come back to the farm, these businesses have had to reach a scale and a size that would sustain future growth. Even though these farms are large and they encompass a lot of land…they can still (be owned) by the family who started that farm,” Leman said.

Leman said he thinks his family was selected by IFF to be featured in the Big Game advertisement partly due to his past visibility as a farmer-leader for the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA). On February 1, Leman completed his year as IPPA president before passing the gavel to another central Illinois pig farmer, Cheryl Walsh of Edelstein, during the group’s annual meeting in Springfield. In addition to his leadership in ag commodities, Leman has also hosted a number of lawmakers, media and others for educational events at his farm.

“We have always taken the initiative to host politicians (at Leman Farms). If we can share with them-- especially some of the urban legislators-- how we are raising the food that is feeding people across this state, it helps them to understand why some of the legislation that they might propose could be detrimental to our businesses,” Leman explained. “When we can get them in the hog barns, or out on the fields or in a tractor, it helps to make that connection between the farm and the fork.”

In addition to his visibility as a farmer-leader for IPPA, Leman is also known in agricultural circles as a strong proponent for the sustainable agricultural practices he employs on his farming operation.

“The farmer is the steward of the land; that’s how we think of ourselves. It’s not only the business of the farm that is passed down to us, but sometimes the land as well. This is the land that sustained our ancestors, and over time we’ve made this land even more productive than it’s ever been with technology and other practices. One of the things I was taught as a kid is that as a farmer you should always try to leave it better than you found it. That’s what my father taught me, my grandfather taught me, and that’s what I tell my children: It’s up to us to leave it better than we found it,” sad Leman, who was able to screen the 30-second Big Game advertisement with his family last week.

“They did a great job with it, and included a lot of families from (across) the state,” he said, before sharing what message he’d like consumers to take away from the commercial.

“To me it boils down to trust. The commercial, to me, implores consumers to trust the farmers that are raising their food, and highlights the fact that this is the same food we are feeding to our families. It highlights the fact that we are caretakers of this food system, and that the consumer can trust us in providing a healthy, nutritious product at their grocery stores,” said Leman.

Leman and family raise around 120,000 pigs per year for processors such as Tyson Foods and JBS. Leman Farms is also affiliated with Pioneer as a seed dealership serving local corn and soybean growers. The farm employs around eight workers from the area, some of whom have worked for Leman Farms for many years.

In addition to Tessa, Leman and his wife Staci have three other daughters: Darby, Sofie, and Sierra. He continues to be active in his community, serving as an elder at New Castle Bible Church in Mackinaw, Illinois. In addition, Leman served as a Member of the Eureka CUSD 140 School Board from 2007-2022.

The Big Game, which will be broadcast live from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, will pit the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the San Francisco 49ers.

Tim Alexander is a correspondent for WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.