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Paul Teutul Jr. of Paul Jr. Designs created Farmers Union's custom motorcycle. Courtesy of Discovery Channel

American Chopper episode featuring ND Farmers Union to air March 5

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — When the North Dakota Farmers Union wanted to commission Paul Jr. Designs to build a custom motorcycle celebrating family farming, President Mark Watne called the company and left a voicemail describing the potential project. He hadn’t heard back about 15 days later and assumed it probably had been a long shot that wouldn’t go anywhere.

Watne was near Tower City, N.D., en route to the airport in Fargo when he got a call from a “strange number” and a person identifying himself as “Paul.”

It took a minute for Watne to realize that Paul Teutul Jr. of Paul Jr. Designs had called him personally to talk about the project. The two ended up talking for about 40 minutes, during which Teutul told Watne how much he loves farming and family farms.

The Family Farms chopper Teutul designed for North Dakota Farmers Union will be featured on a March 5 episode of American Chopper. It is slated to air at 9 p.m. CST on the Discovery Channel. The episode, the fourth of the show’s 12th season, is called, “Splat!” according to television listings.

“I appreciate Farmers Union completely trusting me with their brand. I know it’s a leap of faith,” Teutul said in a statement. “My goal is to mold the family farms message into a work of art that people will want to see. Ultimately, they’ll learn more about Farmers Union and the importance of family farm agriculture.”

Teutul’s enthusiasm for the story of farming was a good fit for the project that Watne said is one of multiple efforts of consumer outreach by his organization.

“One of the things our membership is requesting of us is to do consumer education on what farming is all about,” Watne said.

He said someone could fly to Chicago, rent out a conference room and tell people about agriculture. But that kind of effort would have limited appeal and limited reach. So Farmers Union continues to look for different ways to reach people. The group has published a children's book and has opened a number of popular restaurants on the East Coast, including the Founding Farmers restaurant in King of Prussia, Pa., where Watne was interviewed for the American Chopper episode.

American Chopper airs in more than 200 countries and will be replayed over and over, Watne said. That gives more opportunities for people to hear Farmers Union’s message.

Watne and the rest of Farmers Union will be watching on March 5 to see how their message was represented.

“I have not seen the episode. I’m hoping it turns out really well,” Watne said. “What we’re really trying is to get that awareness out about how good family farmers are at production agriculture and how important that is for a safe, reliable food source.”

Farmers Union has had the motorcycle, which was built in Orange County, N.Y., since its December 2018 convention in Bismarck, but the March 5 episode will be the big public reveal.

“We were told we couldn’t really show it or take lots of pictures” until after the episode is shown, Watne said. One of the few details about the chopper that has been revealed is that it runs on E30, allowing Farmers Union to talk about the potential of higher ethanol blends.

Once the show has aired, Watne expects Farmers Union will get a lot of use out of the chopper for the next year or more. After that, it may be auctioned off or put on permanent display. That remains to be seen. But don’t expect to see it heading down Interstate 94 or Interstate 29.

“I’m not sure that it’ll ever be ridden. It’ll be a piece of art,” he said.

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