The National Cotton Council has announced its support of a new weekly public television show that is celebrating the miracle of American agriculture and the farm and ranch families that help make it possible.

“America’s Heartland” began airing this fall after being distributed to more than 300 U.S. public television stations by America’s Public Television, the single largest provider of programming to public television stations.

The television series is being produced by KVIE, the public television affiliate in Sacramento, Calif., with the series’ two flagship supporters – the Monsanto Co. and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Additional production and promotion assistance is being provided by the NCC, the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, United Soybean Board and U.S. Grains Council.

“We are proud to collaborate with other U.S. agriculture groups to raise awareness of the significant contribution that agriculture makes to the quality of American living,” NCC Chairman Woods Eastland said.

“America’s Heartland will help viewers better understand the nation’s farm and ranch families and the challenges and opportunities they face as they produce food and fiber for Americans and people in other countries.”

Jim O’Donnell, KVIE’s director of program marketing, said, “We project that the first season of the program will be available in markets totaling more than 60 percent of the nation’s viewers – about 100 stations reaching more than 71 million households.”

The magazine-style, half-hour program will profile the people, places and products of U.S. agriculture. It also will focus on Americans’ love for the land, their fascination with food and the bedrock American values of family, hard work and independence that make the U.S. agricultural system the finest in the world.

“American farmers play an important role in the stewardship of the land and foods we eat — it is important that they are recognized by non-farming communities for their hard work and devotion,” said Kerry Preete, vice president of U.S. crop production at Monsanto Co. “America’s Heartland will provide metropolitan audiences an important opportunity to learn more about the story beyond the grocery store shelves and usher in a greater respect for farmers’ and ranchers’ contributions.”

O’Donnell said each half-hour program is being shot entirely on location in digital widescreen format. The first season of the program will consist of 20 original programs, one or more of which will break from the established format to cover a single topic or theme.<