Agriculture’s impact casts a wide net

Dave Bergmeier

As the drudgery of winter grinds to an end we are now heading into the spring season with hopeful optimism. That’s why we look forward to March Madness—not just the NCAA Tournament—but an appreciation for agricultural producers and those who help to make it happen.

This month multiple entities are noting their achievements in agriculture whether it is defined in a 30-day window, a special day or a week. A good example is National Ag Day on March 21, from the Agriculture Council of America. It’s theme is Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow. It is also the 50th year milestone for that organization as the ACA. The National Ag Day program was started in 1973. Values of the ACA is that every American should understand how food and fiber products are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

The ACA activities include a March 20 Ag and Food Policy Summit presented by Agri-Pulse and an Ag Day virtual event is planned for the next day. Some of the activities include a program on the Whitten Patio at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, with multiple guests speakers including American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and Ag Day student representatives. Later that day in the Library of Congress Montpelier Room at the Library of Congress will host a Taste of Ag reception.

Agriculture is the No. 1 business in the High Plains and each state’s department of agriculture and governors—regardless of party affiliation—are asking each of their residents to remember and celebrate March 21.

These activities remind us about the importance of farmers and ranchers and supporting businesses. Farmers and ranchers will continue to tend livestock and, in some cases, undertake fieldwork as the crop season nears. Most producers won’t say much about a special day. They smile when they hear phrases like “if you like to eat, thank a farmer” because it is a wonderful sentiment.

Even with persistent inflation and supply chain challenges, the average American consumer gets a bargain on how much their groceries cost in comparison to other countries. While the focus is on food production, farmers and ranchers are also taking the lead on fiber and renewable fuels.

None of this comes easy. Farmers and ranchers—there are an estimated 2.012 million according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2021—are independent businessmen and women who grapple with taxes and regulations that are different from those who provide them the services they need to be profitable. Here are the number of farm in each state of the High Plains Journal area, here are the number of farms in each state, Arkansas, 42,000; Colorado, 39,000; Iowa, 58,600; Kansas, 74,100; Minnesota, 67,400; Missouri, 27,100; Montana, 27,100; Nebraska, 44,800; New Mexico, 24,700; Oklahoma, 77,200; South Dakota, 29,400; Texas, 247,000; and Wyoming, 12,200.

The beauty of celebrating National Ag Day is an appreciation of the diversity of farm products and those who provide the loans, equipment, seed, fertilizer, and markets are all tied together in making the United States the leader in the drive to feed the world.

As we think about activities, we need to encourage youth to explore a career in production agriculture and vocations that support it. Also, we need to use this as a time to think safety first and to check on neighbors who may have recently lost loved ones or who have faced difficult economic times. Reaching out to our neighbors in need defines the spirit of any agricultural day celebration.

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