Throughout this week you will see posts on COUNTRY LINKed regarding National Ag Day, which is March 25th, 2014. Today’s post comes from Missouri Farm Bureau’s Cut to the Chase Series by Rebecca French Smith. I have had the pleasure to meet and get to know Rebecca through the past year. I appreciate her insight and view not only on issues related to agriculture, but issues regarding our everyday lives. Please check out the MO FB website for more information regarding agriculture issues and other Cut To The Chase articles.
By Rebecca French Smith
Writing is often a journey of small steps that at times doesn’t end up where you think it will when you begin. National Ag Day is March 25, and as I sat down to write a piece on all that it means, I came across the winning essay of this year’s National Ag Day Essay Contest by Clara Knipp from Tipton, Mo. It was not the first step in my journey, but it inspired me and, as a result, altered my path.
A couple of Sundays ago, a speaker reminded me of how much we really have in our part of the world, and that those not so far from us, in some South American countries for example, get by on much less. We have abundant food and purchasing it uses less than 10 percent of our budgets. In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, more than 40 percent of the household budget goes to buy food. We have clothing and fuel available whenever we might find the need to purchase them. So much of what we have comes from the labors of those in agriculture.
The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) was established along with the National Ag Day program more than 40 years ago and is “dedicated to increasing the public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society” — a daunting task today. The organization encourages and supports active involvement of those in agriculture to tell ag’s story.
In 2012, agriculture contributed more than $9 billion to Missouri’s economy, up from $7.5 billion in 2007, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture, performed by the USDA. The value of ag production was generated just by farmers. When you combine it with the hundreds of thousands in the ag industry, those that process, transport and ultimately deliver food, fiber and fuel to the store for us to buy, the economic value increases significantly.
So taking a day as a nation to appreciate agriculture seems appropriate. In March each year we celebrate. This year’s theme, though, gives a nod to the other 364 days we should acknowledge: “Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed,” which brings me to Ms. Knipp’s essay.
Ms. Knipp’s thoughtful insight into that theme also included steps, steps that can accomplish a seemingly impossible task, like landing on the moon. Her approach to feeding the world involved small steps by many people, by all of those involved in agriculture. Through farmers, researchers and educators, she writes, we can meet the challenge. She contends that we all have small steps to take that when combined will achieve that seemingly impossible task of feeding the seven billion mouths on the planet.
In celebration of National Ag Day, events will be held all over the country, with many of the “official” ACA events occurring in Washington, D.C. Most of us are anything but nearby. So how can you participate? What can your small step be? It’s actually pretty simple — as simple as thoughtful consideration of where the food on your plate comes from and how it’s grown, appreciate the hard work that goes into getting it from a farm to your home and be amazed and inspired by this industry we call agriculture.