Unofficial start of summer has important tie to agriculture

Dave Bergmeier

As the calendar turns to Memorial Day it quickly reminds us that summer will soon arrive.

The day is celebrated with reverence the last day of May and honors men and women who died while serving in the United States military, according to Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. That means it has reached its own milestone—50 years. Historically men and women from the Plains have also always answered the call to serve their country.

Many people consider Memorial Day the start of summer and with it the accompanying time of visiting cemeteries and memorials and attending parades. This year may see more of those activities as the pandemic a year ago put activities on hold. The same will be said for family reunions. Baseball and softball tournaments, that were limited, now appear to be back on track.

Rural and urban dwellers alike will now be able to attend county fairs that will feature the best in youth competing in 4-H and FFA competitions. We were thankful that competitions were conducted a year ago but without the general public being able to attend the food connection—from farm to fork—which went on hiatus.

Looking ahead, this summer many people will have pent-up demand. That should be good for the travel and tourism industry. That will also mean added demand for products farmers and ranchers raise—products that drive the American and world economy.

After a down year in 2020 ethanol production, at under 14 million gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, there is reason for optimism that a return to travel will significantly add usage. That is good news for grain growers who are already seeing prices up from a year ago.

The optimism continues in the meat sector as the Meat Institute reported in March that meat purchases and confidence were at record highs. “Americans are buying more beef, pork, poultry and lamb than ever as increased time at the pandemic sent meat grocery sales soaring 20% from 2019 to 2020.” Additional information in the report indicated that three out of every four Americans agree meat belongs in healthy, balanced diets and 94% say they buy meat because it provides high-quality protein.

As many Americans turn their attention to the unofficial summer start it is comforting to know that consumers have great confidence in the food supply and agricultural system and they are responding with their purchases.

Memorial Day is one of reverence and as we often stated it is one that many producers continue to use as a regular workday to check livestock and plant soybeans and sorghum while others anxiously wait to cut wheat. That work often goes unnoticed by consumers who enjoy a relaxing day. Yet they are also rewarding farmers and ranchers by selecting steaks, hamburgers and pork chops to feed their families and guests. This year is one more than ever that producers and consumers can collectively enjoy and celebrate food and family that will last all summer.

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