Agriculture receives its due with March celebration

Dave Bergmeier

The many challenges farmers and ranchers face heading into this year—drought and concerns about fertilizer availability and price—have been compounded with a spike in fuel costs.

Rural residents and their urban cousins are all feeling the pain at the pump. It can become quite easy to take a hunker down approach but thankfully there are organizations across all walks of life that continue to celebrate the achievements of modern agriculture. According to the United States Census, March 20 to 26 is set aside to honor the work of famers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers and agriculture stewards who have contributed to the nation’s lands through sustainable management; ensures health and safety of animals, plants and people. The industry provides a safe and abundant food supply and facilitates opportunity for property and economic development in rural America.

Today’s farmers and ranchers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, feed 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad. Farming accounts for about 1% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Farm Bureau also notes that 86% of U.S. agricultural products are produced on family farmers or ranches.

The efficiency is astounding and after accounting for input costs, farmers and ranchers only receive 8 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest goes for costs behind the farm gate: wages and materials for production processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.

Digesting all those facts lends itself to paying homage to all levels of the agricultural sector that provides our country and many other nations with food security.

Recent months remind us as we also celebrate National Ag Day on March 22 that continuing to meet those lofty goals will always be a challenge.

Agriculture is a global economy and markets have been stressed because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Growing a Climate for Tomorrow, which is marked by the Overland Park, Kansas-based Agriculture Council of America, has laudable goals for every American and they were written before the invasion. The council believes every American should:

• Understand how food, fiber and renewable resources are produced;

• Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy;

appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products; and

• Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resources industries.

These lessons more now than ever need to be reinforced. National Ag Week and National Ag Day are really global milestones.

The roots, of course, of the milestone are at the grassroots level. The industry needs the entrepreneurial skills that only a farmer and rancher can provide as he or she has to make decisions based on factors that are, many times, out of their control.

The world depends on the American farmer and rancher and that’s why we salute you.

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