The last full week in March is designated as National Agriculture Week by the Agriculture Council of America, a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. They’re an advocacy group, dedicated to educating the community at large.
A subset of the week is National Ag Day itself. “Ag Day is about recognizing – and celebrating – the contribution of agriculture in our daily lives. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to understand how food and fiber products are produced, value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy – and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products, according to AgDay.org.
Agriculture intersects with almost every square of our existence: what we eat, wear – the products we use. But, in the era of mass production and ever growing urban centers, awareness of the farmer’s impact is fading. ACA’s goal is to change that through raising awareness and encouraging active participation in the industry and support for existing farmers and growers.
Some fast facts, courtesy of American Farm Bureau:
- 2 million farms dot America’s rural landscape, and 98% are operated by families – individuals, family partnerships or family corporations (America’s Diverse Family Farms, 2020 Edition)
- 86% of U.S. ag products are produced on family farms
- 25% of all farmers are beginning farmers (in business less than 10 years); their average age is 46
- More than half of America’s farmers intentionally provide habitat for wildlife – deer, moose, birds and other species have shown significant population increases for decades
- Careful stewardship by America’s food producers has spurred a 34% decline in erosion of cropland by wind and water since 1982
- In 2018, $139.6 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the world. The U.S. sells more food and fiber to world markets than we import, creating a positive agricultural trade balance.
- One U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad
Those statistics are awesome – and they speak to the monumental impact of agriculture on the American way of life and the world at large. They also speak to the need to protect these growers and their valuable resources and to advocate for them and educate others on what they do – as it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult in today’s climate to “make a go” of traditional farming and more and more farmers are having to diversify their interests across a broad spectrum just to be able to pay the bills.
So how can we help? I’ll defer once again to the Ag Day website – “Put simply, get involved! Your participation in Ag Day is critical in helping us spread this positive message about agriculture. If you are interested in planning an event, download a Planning Guide today. Of course, there are other ways you can lend your support, including sending a letter to your local newspaper, calling your Congressional representatives or simply sharing information about agriculture with youngsters in your community.”
Check out the “Promote Ag Day” tab on their website at http://www.agday.org/ for a list of promotional resources.
The “Plan an Event” tab has a comprehensive list of ideas for events you can plan to get your family and your community involved. Examples include a Farmers Markets Exhibit, hosting an Ag Day Breakfast, Adopt-A-Legislator, a Petting Zoo or a Library Display.
The sky is the limit – just have fun with it!
It may seem like a small step, but you and your family can make a great impact on the perception of agriculture in your local community.
by Andrew Haman