Unless you happen to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or some other life milestone event, — March 16 — will pass as just another day on the calendar. Today holds significance for every one of us. Today is being celebrated as National Agriculture Day at the state capitol in Sacramento, one day out of 365 days of the year that our nation’s farmers, ranchers and forest land owners get recognition for the vital role they play to make our lives so much better.
In so many ways, the men and women of agriculture contribute mightily to keep high-quality, affordable food flowing to grocery stores, restaurants and other food outlets. When was the last time you thought about a farmer when you picked up a carton of milk at the store or after a nice dinner at your favorite restaurant? Do you give any thought to that forester who provided the timber for the two-by-fours for your new home? The fact that food, fiber and forest products are available, plentiful and affordable every day of the year is a testament to America’s agricultural producers.
But agriculture’s contributions go much farther than the diverse bounty farmers and ranchers produce. Agriculture employs more than 24 million American workers in production, processing transportation and other job sectors, roughly 17% of the total U.S. work force. Our farmers are the epitome of productivity. Roughly 2 out of every 100 Americans is involved in agriculture. But one farmer today feeds about 155 people worldwide, six times the number one farmer fed in 1960.
Our agricultural producers are America’s best environmental stewards. Rarely are they recognized and appreciated for taking care of our nation’s natural resources, but most assuredly they deserve our praise for ensuring that our farmland and our forests are managed, protected and preserved for today and for future generations. They’ve become champions for composting, recycling, conserving, reusing, and providing valuable habitat for protected species. It’s what they do because they live 24/7 in the rural environment.
National Agriculture Day is not a Hallmark card occasion, but it should be. It’s a great occasion to give pause and honor some of the hardest, most productive and committed people in our nation — America’s farmers.
Happy National Agriculture Day 2016!