Tuesday, March 25, 2014

National AG Day

Hey there!

It’s National Ag day.  Have you thought about agriculture yet today?

I’m going to bet you’re going to say “NO” and look at me oddly.  You’re probably going to think that I’m a little strange when I counter “well, you should have!”  And you probably think I have an unfair advantage when I say it seems I am always thinking about it because…well, I am an agriculturist (a farmer). Or then, you might just continue to look at me oddly and  think I’m a little strange. (that’s okay…you wouldn’t be alone!)

But, seriously…it’s National Ag Day!

Have you thought about Agriculture today?

WHAT is Ag Day?

It's a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

Visit the website. http://www.agday.org/

More importantly…What is AGRICULTURE?

It’s the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.

The University of California expanded the definition a little bit.

Agriculture is the science, art and occupation of cultivating the soil, producing crops and raising livestock.
Agriculture is the very basis of civilization.
It is the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the material of our homes, the gardens around us, and many of our traditions and values.   University of California

Ag day had its beginnings back in the 70’s.  It was hoped that the leaders in the Ag community could help to increase the public’s awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society by setting aside a special day (the high point of Agriculture Week---this year March 23-29) Events are planned around the country to emphasize Ag's importance in all our lives.

To be perfectly honest here, if you hadn't heard of it, you're not alone. I’m pretty sure that National AG Day gets past a whole lot of the folks that are deeply involved with Agriculture, too.  But, I think that’s probably because they’re kinda busy providing the products necessary for the feeding and clothing of the nation.

Locally,(if yesterday was any indication) today will be spent getting ready for the upcoming growing season,.  Trucks and tractors ran in a steady stream up and down Mbrook Road as our farming neighbors begin to gear up and get back on schedule. The weather in our part of the world (in lots of parts of the world) during the winter season was not kind.  The cold, snow (and subsequent mud) and relentless wind kept fieldwork from happening on a timely basis and caused a new set of troubles that will be felt long into the future.  Today’s predicted snows will again interfere with the spreading and spraying that need to occur before the early planting. The snow also means that hay and feed must be hauled to the animals in the fields, again. It’s sale day down at the stockyard, too…and that means animals must be handled and transported.   

Looks like outdoor work is on hold...
it's snowing AGAIN!

On a personal level, our work for the day is far less ambitious, but every bit as necessary.  We will make repairs, start crops and maintain our livestock. The Farmers’ Market opens in less than two weeks…and we are SO NOT READY. (but, that's another story)

When you think of Agricultural products, you may think of fruits and vegetables, meat and milk and fiber for clothing. That’s just the beginning!  

Look at this list (which is not exhaustive by any means) :

Health Care: Health Care: Pharmaceuticals, ointments, pharmaceuticals, ointments, surgical sutures, latex gloves, x-ray film, surgical sutures, latex gloves, x-ray film

Manufacturing: Adhesives, lubricants, solvents, detergents, polymers

Education: Crayons, textbooks, chalk, desks, pencils, paper

Personal Care: Shampoo, lotions, cosmetics, toothpaste, fingernail polish

Construction: Lumber, paints, tar paper, brushes, dry wall, particle board, and tool handles

I realize that there is much discussion and a lot of concern in certain circles about the various practices in modern Agriculture.  So much so that some folks use “agri-business” as a bad word. (seriously people…it’s just the business of agriculture) Ironically, it is the very fact some have devoted their lives to Agriculture that allows us to even have these debates.  If we were all still engaged in a hunter-gather lifestyle, there would be little time for debate and discussion.  We’d be too busy attempting to provide our own sustenance and clothing! (if we existed at all) And, it is foolhardy to think that the world’s population could be fed and clothed by the meager offerings from backyard gardens. But, this is not the place for divisive wrangling.

Bet you didn't know some of these!

Instead, I’d rather focus on some of the amazing facts about Agriculture. You would be hard-pressed to come up with some aspect of your life that is NOT affected by Ag.     

Did you know?

Family farms account for most of the farms in the US.

Farmers and ranchers are independent business people who provide for their families by growing and producing food and fiber. They use modern production techniques to increase the quality and quantity of the food they produce.

The top five agricultural commodities are cattle and calves, dairy products, broilers, corn and soybeans. U.S. farmers produce 46% of the world’s soybeans, 41% of the world’s corn, 20.5% of the world’s cotton and 13% of the world’s wheat.

Soy crayons have been created to replace toxic petroleum-wax crayons, soy crayons are brighter in color and less expensive to produce.

One acre (43,560 square feet) of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons.

Soybean oil is the most widely used vegetable oil. It is found in margarines, salad dressings, canned foods, sauces, bakery goods, and processed fried foods.

It takes just 40 days for most Americans to earn enough money to pay for their food supply for the entire year. In comparison with the 129 days it takes the average American to earn enough money to pay federal, state and local taxes for the year.

 Cotton is also a food crop. Almost 200 million gallons of cottonseed oil are used in food products such as margarine and salad dressing. Cottonseed and cottonseed meal are used in feed for livestock and poultry. And even products such as toothpaste, ice cream, and the paper money used to buy them contain by-products of the cotton seed.

The environment and everyone in it benefits from research on biodegradable plant products that break down easily in landfills.

Agriculture land provides food and habitat for 75% of the nation's wildlife. Deer, moose, fowl and other species have shown significant population increases in the past several years.

Genetic engineering with plants and animals has resulted in new antibodies for immunizations. Other research has developed surgical techniques and pharmaceuticals from agriculture that help save lives.

Ethanol and new bio-diesel fuels made from corn and other grains are beneficial to the environment and promote energy security.

Heart valves from hogs are used to replace damaged or diseased human heart valves.

One bushel of wheat will produce 73 one-pound loaves of bread.

More facts about agriculture can be found here. Check it out! 
Agriculture practices today are far different than they were way back there at the dawn of time.  But, then so is society.  I don’t think many folks would want to return to the accepted difficulties of daily life long ago and it is unfair to suggest that Agriculture turn its back on technology. 

Rather than fear what you don’t know… Take a few minutes and learn just a little bit about Ag today.  

You’ll be amazed! (I know I was)

Check out some of the blogs on Blogging for Agriculture. There are over 200 agriculture-based blogs listed here.  https://www.facebook.com/BloggingforAgriculture

My favorite one today is by my friend, Katie, who wrote this...(read) about what she has learned about Agriculture.

…and here is my own entry from last year.

Now, you can say that you have indeed given some thought to Agriculture today. 

Have a great AG Day everyone! 



  1. Thanks for including my post! Happy AgDay!

  2. Every day is Ag day here on the farm for us Barbara, as I am sure it is for you too. Happy Ag Day - may this year be a really good one for your farm.