Ag Day offers ray of awareness (Editorial)

by | Mar 8, 2019

The 46th National Ag Day is on Thursday, March 14.
The event is chock full of banquets, luncheons and other events planned in Washington, D.C., and across the nation to stress the importance of American agriculture.
Ag Day events are organized by the Agriculture Council of America to increase awareness of production agriculture and encourage the consuming public to, among other things, understand how food and fiber products are produced and appreciate the role farmers and ranchers play in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
These events are part of a nationwide effort to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us.
Ag Day began in 1973 by Miller Publishing Company in Minneapolis, Minn., which produced several agriculture-related journals and at the time was the nation’s leading publisher of agricultural management business information.
Early on, the company led a push to make National Ag Day a national holiday and even gave its own employees the day off.
Though several proposals were submitted, it never reached national holiday status but 46 years later, the event garners a lot of attention on Capitol Hill and, perhaps more importantly, in school classrooms across the United States.
The forecast for the nation’s agriculture industry doesn’t offer much to celebrate, unfortunately.
The USDA recently projected farm income for 2019 at about 10 percent higher than last year, but that’s still close to half of the earnings farms had six years ago.
While not as bleak as the farm crisis of the 1980s, the threat of rising interest rates could increase farm debt beyond already uncomfortable levels.
For all it’s efforts, and the efforts of so many other ag groups promoting farmers and their craft, Ag Day has a ways to go to complete it’s mission.
“With nearly four in 10 agriculture jobs going unfilled each year and the average-age of farmers ever increasing, it’s going to take a pragmatic, creative approach to encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture,” said Nanci Lilja, president of the CHS Foundation, an Ag Day sponsor. “While filling the talent gap and meeting the labor demand is an issue that cannot be solved by any one individual or organization, I feel a personal responsibility to be part of the solution.”
We all share that responsibility, either in our advocacy or in learning about how food is really grown and what it takes to keep a farm thriving.

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