Agriculture celebrated on Ag Day March 20 By Bob Stallman, president American Farm Bureau Federation For more than 225 years, agriculture has been the vital thread in the fabric of our nation. America's farm and ranch families represent the cornerstone of our freedom and way of life � now and in the future.
Two generations ago, more than 30 million Americans lived on farms and ranches. Today only 4.6 million Americans share that heritage. Today our nation has less than 2 million farms, down substantially from the peak of 6.8 million farms in 1935.
These drastic declines in the number of farms and the people living there should not be mistaken as a sign of decreasing importance. While the numbers may be smaller, America's need for a dynamic, efficient agricultural industry continues to grow.
Farmers and ranchers maintain their prominent place in our society, in part, by providing Americans with an abundant supply of safe, high quality food. Our farm community provides a quality of life for American consumers that is the envy of the world. American agriculture is so successful that farmers' and ranchers' contributions to this nation are often taken for granted.
Nonetheless, not having to worry about whether there will be food on the grocer's shelf allows Americans to focus on building this great nation. Farmers are proud of their vital role, and just as many contribute their time and efforts to strengthening their own communities.
Americans have numerous opportunities each day to remember the nation's farm and ranch families � the day's first glass of cold milk or orange juice, the vast array of fruits and vegetables, the juicy steak, pork chop or chicken breast on your dinner table.
Beyond food, many aspects of our daily lives are connected to what happens on America's farms � from building materials and medicine to paper and ink. Don't forget your favorite cotton shirt or blouse that started in a farm field or the fuel in your car that contains ethanol.
American agriculture will play an even bigger role in our everyday lives as technology helps develop new uses and specialized products from our farm commodities. The future is bright for America's consumers and farmers.
That's why Farm Bureau is proud to join in the commemoration of National Ag Week March 19-25 and National Ag Day March 20. These days celebrate the dedication of the men and women who are involved in American agriculture. It's an opportunity for Americans to discover the role agriculture plays in our everyday lives. It offers insight on what's required to feed our growing world. And, it's a chance for students to discover possible career paths in agriculture.
Not only does American agriculture feed and clothe the world. It provides opportunities for millions of young people seeking a career path.
Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in this booming American job market is what agriculture has to offer the work force. American agriculture ranks among the indispensable industries of our nation. It generates more than 22 million jobs for Americans. From farm production and marketing, to research and engineering, agriculture provides opportunities for fulfilling and rewarding careers.
As president of the nation's largest and most influential farm organization, I welcome the opportunity to travel this country educating the public about farm and ranch issues. I'm proud to speak for the nearly 5 million families who place their confidence in Farm Bureau to look after the interests of America's farmers and ranchers.
It's imperative people develop an understanding and appreciation for American agriculture. And it's vital they recognize the need to sustain the men, women and families of this industry.
I'm confident that the more we understand agriculture, the more we as a society appreciate it. I applaud the efforts of Ag Day and Ag Week in promoting educational efforts in bridging the informational gap that may exist between rural and urban citizens.
Americans must never forget that farmers' and ranchers' contributions are a key element to our future as a nation.