National Ag Week continues to be treasure

Dave Bergmeier

National Agriculture Week is celebrated March 21 to 27, paying homage to those who understand the importance of farmers and ranchers, agribusiness, corporations university research and education and government agencies that are all intertwined in producing the food and fiber that drives the nation’s economy and feeds the world.

During the week National Ag Day is celebrated on March 23 as noted by the Agriculture Council of America, Overland Park, Kansas.

Certainly the past year has been one in which all functions struggled to stay in balance. A year ago, on the cusp of COVID-19, many in the industry found plans shuttered for any activities to celebrate National Ag Day and National Ag Week.

The focus became shutdown of activities although agriculture’s importance was not lost. Declared an essential industry for national security, agriculture continued to produce food and fiber and while market interruptions occurred for most functions—from planting to harvesting crops, tending and selling livestock, dairy producers were continuing to milk cows, and markets allocated resources.

All we have to look at Nebraska, for example; it not only tops the nation in commercial cattle slaughter but is No. 1 in Great Northern bean production and popcorn production. Cash receipts from farm marketing contributed more than $21.4 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2019 and 5.8% of the United States total.

The professionals who helped educate and bring new ideas to the marketplace did so under circumstances that no one could have foreseen when National Agriculture Week was announced a year ago.

Today, as we look ahead there continues to be a pause on numerous activities, but it is refreshing to see live events starting to appear on the radar screen. Let’s face it—that is the atmosphere many people prefer.

Optimism, which defines farmers and ranchers, is returning to form. There will be uncertainty from a new administration and possible climate change legislation.

Colorado had a MeatOutDay but that was followed quickly by MeatIn Day as the livestock industry took a quick and necessary reaction to voice their displeasure. Other states quickly took note of the swiftness in the reaction and we say thanks.

After all the disruptions in the marketplace, a self-inflected one from a government rightfully should carry the disdain from those who grow the product and those who manufacture and add more value.

National Agriculture Week and National Ag Day serve as a reminder that consumers have benefited from the most efficient food production system in the world. As of 2018 Americans spent an average of 9.7% of their total disposable income on food at home and eating out.

The pandemic reinforced the importance of food security to each household across America. Lessons from the disruptions of 2020 and early 2021 should serve as a reminder that a week needs to be reserved to celebrate an amazing success story that is uniquely American.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].