Iowa History Daily: On November 2, 1985, the #1 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes took the field to play the #8 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on the road with a new addition to the standard issue Iowa uniform: each player’s helmet featured a small sticker reading “ANF” in black within a yellow circle. The gesture, meant to show support for Iowa farmers during the depths of the 1980s farm crisis has evolved to represent a significant cultural representation of the Iowa agricultural industry.
As the Hawkeyes ranked to the top of the polls during 1985, Iowa farmers watched land values continue to plummet. Iowa’s farmland lost 60% total value from 1981 to 1986, and an estimated third of Iowa farmers found themselves facing serious financial troubles. As corn dropped from $3.15 a bushel in 1979 to $1.55 in 1987, leading to 1 in 4 Iowa farms shuttering by 1990.
Iowa Head Football Coach Hayden Fry sought to bring attention to the plight of farmers with a simple 2.5” yellow circle inscribed with “A-N-F” positioned above the Tigerhawk on the right side of each helmet which debuted as the Hawkeyes entered Ohio Stadium as the #1 ranked team in the land. Although the Buckeyes carried the day on the field, Iowa farmers received an enduring message.
“The thing I’m most proud of here at Iowa is putting the ANF on our headgear,” reflected Fry years later. Today, with less than 5% of Iowans making a living farming, the symbol still adorning the Hawkeye helmets continues to represent the broader agricultural interests which dominate Iowa economically. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar