Each year this time we commemorate National Agriculture Day, that one day a year when recognition is paid to those who grow our year-round national food supply. This year’s theme is aptly titled “Agriculture: Food for Life.”
Global trade makes it possible for us to have fresh fruits and vegetables 365 days a year from international trading partners, which arguably is not a bad thing. Still, we certainly would not have the abundance and choices of food and fiber without the hard work and dedication of American farmers. It’s they we celebrate on National Ag Day, March 20.
American ingenuity and technology can be credited with making food production what it is today. No longer is it necessary for everyone to grow their own food and raise their own livestock to eat. Today America eats because roughly 1 percent of its population can efficiently produce the meat, fruit, nuts and vegetables we consume. Not only are our choices of what to eat legion, so too are our choice of where to eat.
We can shop the traditional venues that include grocery stores and farmer’s markets; we can eat out at a laundry-list of restaurants; and, we can even have our food delivered to us already prepared, or delivered as raw ingredients to prepare ourselves.
Moreover, we have the choice of certified organic or conventionally-grown fruits, nuts, grains, vegetables and proteins because the same American farmer has the skill and technology to produce it in abundance. We do all this in large part because of the wealth and success we’ve amassed and achieved as a nation.
This wealth, success and technology allow us to ship our abundance to other countries, and in turn participate in global markets that give us access to year-round supplies of fruits and vegetables, and allow us to import commodities consumers have come to rely upon 24/7/365. Certainly, this trade makes us economically stronger as a nation by growing our GDP beyond farm inputs.
American agriculture is more than just the food and fiber we produce; it also involves people who pick it, plant it, plow it, prune it, truck it, till it, trim it, sort it, sell it, spray it, clean it and cook it. Yes, while it all begins with the farmer who grows it, let’s not lose sight of how interconnected we all are with agriculture as we strive to do what we can to ensure the American farmer has everything he or she needs to continue farming.