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Cupid for Country Folk

"The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky / And as I wonder where you are I'm so lonesome I could cry" - From Hank Williams' 1949 song, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"

The idea of an online dating service for farmers might strike those of us who don't live on a farm — about 99 percent of Americans — as a bit of a joke.

But to Jerry Miller, the founder of, matching up country folk for rural romance is no laughing matter; "It's the most important thing that I've ever done in my life."
Miller is an unlikely rural cupid. An advertising executive, he lives and works in suburban Cleveland.
It was the ad business that gave Miller the idea for FarmersOnly. Through one of his agency's clients, an association of alpaca farmers, he met a rural woman who mentioned her frustration with online dating.

"She said the city guys that contacted her just don't have a clue and that's where the slogan for my site came," he says with a eureka smile. "'City folks just don't get it!'"
Miller says his clients have more obstacles than most on their road to romance. One of the biggest is physical distance. Only about 1 percent of Americans actually live on farms today. That can leave a lot of space between neighbors.
Miller's online service bridges those country miles with the Internet, creating a space where like-minded folks can meet up anytime rather than waiting for the annual Fourth of July picnic.
The site's clients are not just farmers, but anyone whose life and work is tied to the land. One such client was Ohio State University equestrian coach Blain Newsome. She was tired of dates who wrinkled their noses at horse manure — or who were simply not gentlemen.
Through FarmersOnly, Newsome met a farm machinery salesman named Kris Young. They're getting hitched in the fall.

"It's the most important thing that I've ever done in my life." — Jerry Miller

Although FarmersOnly is just a speck in the nearly half-billion dollar online dating industry, it has already sown the seeds of success. In just two years since the site was founded, Miller has signed up more than 64,000 people, with members in all 50 states and Canada.

And with a specialized dating pool that deep, Miller says farmers are finding love almost too fast.
"I get quite a few e-mails saying, 'Thank you, I met somebody on your free week trial,'" he says.
But Miller says he's not really in it for the money anyway. He's just happy being able to use his advertising skills on something more enduring than the agency's usual work — clients like car dealers and a cleaning potion called Goo Gone.
On his desk, Miller has a large black binder filled with thank you notes and invitations from people he says met through FarmersOnly. Forty have already married, with another twenty weddings coming up, says Miller.

While he's serious about the work of the site, he imbues the project with his warm and offbeat sense of humor, promoting it with video ads featuring talking animals. He also talks about planning a wedding for special clients at the site of a tractor pull.

And though he's not a farmer himself, he knows his clientele.

"You can't fake being a farmer, you know," he says. "On a regular site, you could say, 'Oh, I'm a lawyer,' or whatever. But if you say you're a farmer and they say, 'What kind of tractor do you drive and what model number and you know, how often do you feed your Holstein cow and that,' if you're faking it, you're dead."

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