Osborne & Barr

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Osborn & Barr Communications (O&B) is an agricultural marketing and public relations agency with offices in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, Des Moines, Iowa (USA), and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and London, Ontario (Canada). The company's slogan is, "We create belief."

O&B was formed in 1988 with Monsanto as its founding client. The agency now represents other agricultural brands such as John Deere, the National Pork Board,[1] the United Soybean Board, and the Cattlemen's Beef Board/National Cattlemen's Beef Association.[2] Steve Barr is the CEO. Barr and Joe Osborn are the founding partners of Osborn & Barr. [3] Previous to co-founding O&B, Steve Barr worked for Monsanto as a marketing executive in its agricultural division,[4] and "managed client programs" for John Deere.[5] Joe Osborn oversaw Monsanto's agricultural advertising with an unnamed New York agency.[4]

Front groups formed by O&B for its clients include American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) and CommonGround. The front group U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is managed by Hugh Whaley, now of Drake & Company but a former executive of O&B.[6]


CommonGround is a grassroots advocacy front group created by O&B on behalf of the United Soybean Board and National Corn Growers Association. It calls itself "a group of volunteer farm women" and says "it’s all about starting a conversation between women who grow food, and the women who buy it. It’s a conversation based on our personal experience as farmers, but also on science and research. Our first goal is to help consumers understand that their food is not grown by a factory. It’s grown by people and it’s important to us that you understand and trust the process."[7] The fine print at the bottom of the webpage, however, as well as the group's Facebook page, explains that this "grassroots movement" is "brought to you by America's soybean and corn farmers and their checkoffs" (emphasis added).[8]

According to WhoIs.com, CommonGround's website is registered to Jack Lawry at Osborn & Barr Communications in St. Louis, Missouri.[9] The LinkedIn.com profile of Osborn Barr manager Gina Ehrhard explains that she works "on behalf of the United Soybean Board and National Corn Growers Association to support and promote CommonGround, a national, grassroots consumer awareness program aimed at increasing trust and understanding of today’s agriculture among key consumers and influencers."[10]


O&B helped form the pro-RBGH, grassroots farmers front group American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology (AFACT) in February, 2008. The group was funded in part by Monsanto, manufacturer of RBGH (also known as Posilac). [11]

In 1999, Monsanto turned over nearly all of its agricultural advertising and public relations business to O&B, on which, according to the St. Louis Business Journal, the company spends over $30 million per year. The change turned O&B into one of the largest agricultural PR firms in the country.[4]


Osborn & Barr Communications
St. Louis Office
One North Brentwood
Eighth Floor
St. Louis, MO 63105
Phone: 1-888-235-4332 or 314-726-5511


Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. LARGEST AGENCIES BROADENING CLIENT BASE, AgriMarketing, May 2003, accessed May 2012
  2. University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, 2009 Alumnus of the Year: Steve Barr, university alumni website, accessed May 2012
  3. Heather Kaye, Northern Exposure: St. Louis-based marketing agency Osborn & Barr Communications is set to tackle a distinct set of agrimarketing issues ... this time, north of the border, Agrimarketing.com, March 2004, accessed May 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Rick Desloge, Osborne & Barr to harvest Monsanto's ag marketing, St. Louis Business Journal, January 17, 1999, accessed May 2012
  5. Osborn & Barr, Steve Barr: Co-Founder and Chairman, agency biography, accessed May 2012
  6. Hugh Whaley, Hugh Whaley, LinkedIn.com online profile, accessed May 2012
  7. CommonGround, About CommonGround, organizational website, accessed May 2012
  8. CommonGround, About, organizational Facebook page, accessed May 8, 2012
  9. WhoIs, FindOurCommonGround.com Registrar, domain registration website, accessed May 8, 2012
  10. Gina Ehrhard, Gina Ehrhard, LinkedIn.com career profile, accessed May 2012
  11. Martin, A., New York Times Fighting on a Battlefield the Size of a Milk Label Business section. March 9, 2008