April's Ag Advice by April Borders With the approach of spring, many of our thoughts turn to tilling the soil and preparing for another year of producing food and fiber. But as spring approaches we should take time to celebrate agriculture. We need to step back for a minute and really look at agriculture and what it means to us.
Agriculture is everywhere. It touches everyone and provides us with almost everything that we eat, wear and use on a daily basis. Because of the importance that agriculture has in our lives, National Ag Week was established 30 years ago and from that time forward, the third week of March had been set aside for celebration and recognition. This year, National Ag Week is March 14-20 and National Ag Day is March 20, the first day of spring.
For more that 225 years, agriculture had 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 about 4.6 million Americans share that heritage. today our nation had less than 2 million farms, down substantially from the peak of 6.8 million farms in 1935. America's family farmers continue on.
Beside the family farmer, many more people are employed in farm or farm-related jobs, including production production agriculture, farm inputs, processing, marketing, and wholesale and retail sales.
Farmers and ranchers provide us with an abundant supply of safe, high quality food. Our farm community contributions allow American consumers to enjoy a quality of life that is the envy of the world. American agriculture is so successful the the essential role played by the farmers and ranchers in our economy is often taken for granted.
We have numerous opportunities each day to remember the nation's farm and ranch families. Think about it � the day's first glass of cold milk or orange juice, maybe it is the vast array of fruit and vegetables, or what about that juicy steak, pork chop or chicken breast on your dinner table.
Most people don't give a second thought to where their food comes from because it is generally abundant and affordable year-round. It's important for consumers to realize where these products are coming from. Most people also don't know the difficulty farmers and ranchers face to put high quality food products on store shelves.
When you stop and look, it is amazing to see how many components are involved in the nation's agriculture industry � from seed companies to the trucking industry. There is everything from tilling the soil to getting the product to market. It is truly amazing.
It is not only important for people to learn about the food they consume but also all of the items they are used for. There are many commodities and products out there that people don't realize ate linked to the agricultural industry.
Beyond food, many aspects of our daily lives are connected to agriculture � from building materials and medicine to paper and ink. Don't forget you favorite cotton shirt that started in a farm field or the fuel in your car that contains ethanol made from South Dakota corn.
Agriculture will play an even bigger role in our everyday lives as technology helps develop new uses and specialized products from our farm commodities. Research and advancements in biotechnology are now in the market place with tastier fruits and vegetables that stay fresh longer and are not damaged by insects. A new technology called "precision farming" boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protector applications to local soil conditions.
National Ag Week is really about all of us � from the one who raises the food, to the one who purchases it from the grocery store. There is continued need for public support of agriculture at the individual level. This support is voiced every time a shopper purchases food and prepares a meal for their family. We all play a part in making American agriculture a success story and a reason to celebrate.
The future is bright for America's consumers and farmers. Join us in celebrating National Ag Week (March 14-20) and National Ag Day (March 20). These days celebrate the dedication of the men and women in American agriculture. It's your opportunity to rediscover the role agriculture plays in our everyday life.
Check out the Extension information booth at Jones Food and Hy-Vee Food Store. Also watch for the Field to Table Classroom and Consumers Night, coming Sept. 1-3. This is your chance to come out in the field and learn about local agricultural production. For more information contact the Clay County Extension Office at 677-7111.
Article adapted from the Farm Bureau Federation.