March 18, 2015

Thank a farmer today

By Thank a farmer today

The vast majority of Americans aren’t farmers or ranchers. It’s safe to say that most people don’t know one, either. But most assuredly, every American benefits immensely from the contributions of farmers, ranchers, and foresters.

Today is a good day to thank a farmer. It’s National Agriculture Day. For me, it’s also an early Father’s Day because the farmer I grew up with and know so well is also my 90-year-old dad. I learned at an early age that farming is hard work, but I wouldn’t change a thing about how I grew up. I have a much greater appreciation now for what he did then, and for all that farmers do today.

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It’s doubtful it will ever be a “Hallmark holiday,” but this one day of the year is a good time for all Americans to reflect on what the other 364 days of our lives a year would be without them.

Agriculture is more closely integrated in our lives than any other profession, from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the construction materials for our homes, and even the landscaping around them.

The nation’s farmers provide a bounty of high-quality, home-grown, affordable food, fiber, forest and nursery products. They’re the best at what they do, and our lives are so much better because of their incredible talents.

There are many impressive stats and superlatives to describe American agriculture. If nothing else, agricultural productivity is astonishing. Back in the 1960s when my father farmed, one farmer could grow enough food for about 26 people. Today, according to the National Agriculture Council, one farmer produces enough food and fiber to satisfy the needs of more than 144 people. This fact is more impressive when you consider the risks inherent in agriculture; adverse weather conditions like droughts, freezes and floods; pestilence; fickle markets; not to mention all of the government red tape they must contend with.

Equally impressive is the mantle farmers have assumed as conservationists and environmental stewards. Lest you think farming is only about food and fiber, consider the fact that farmers and ranchers provide habitat for 75 percent of the wildlife in our nation.

One day a year is not nearly enough to recognize the value and importance of America’s farmers, but it’s a start. Any way you cut it, today is a good day to thank a farmer.

Happy National Ag Day.

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