Tuesday, March 15, 2016

National Ag Day 2016

2016 Poster contest winner
Emily Eibs, University of Wisconsin-Stout

It’s National Agriculture Day.

This is a day set aside by the Agriculture Council of America to increase awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society. It is the council’s hope that every American would...

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.
Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

I might say “good luck with that”, but it sounds a little snarky. However, unless you’re directly involved with Ag, there is no real reason to understand it, and it’s not the topic of most conversations. We (as a society) have come to expect certain things and take a whole lot for granted when it comes to Agriculture. And, not unlike the other things we take for granted, we only talk about it if we think there’s a problem.

I’m pretty sure that I talk about Agriculture far too much. Ag is somehow the topic of just about every conversation, in one way or another. But, since it affects absolutely every aspect of my life...that’s pretty understandable.

The thing is...Ag affects every aspect of everyone’s life. It just gets overlooked.

It’s easy to think about farms and farming when you’re grocery shopping. Everybody knows that all food products start on a farm. Right?

But, what about when you go to the gas station?   Ethanol starts out as a farm product.

School? Paper for textbooks (and other uses) comes from tree farms.  And, did you know that crayons are made from soy beans?

The components of many health and medical treatments started on the farm as well. And not just those at the health food store.

When you go clothes shopping...many (if not most) of the items we wear started out on a farm somewhere.  The 1,240,000,000 pairs of blue jeans sold worldwide each year require a whole lot of bales of cotton! (source: statisticbrain.com)

Even sports are affected by agriculture. Tossing around the old “pigskin” in a football game? Yep. You guessed it...started on a farm. Although, footballs aren’t actually made from pigs...they’re made from leather---that comes from cows. cows. (read this) Did you know that a single cowhide can produce 10 footballs?  And 120 footballs are used for the Super Bowl alone! 

Our morning joe is produced by coffee farmers. We give credit for the cream to dairy farmers. And, that sugar came from a farm, too. My donut didn’t start on a donut farm...but, all the ingredients were in fact farm products at some point. And, don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be eating donuts.

Then, there are all the jobs that Agriculture creates.  While actual farmers account for a tiny fraction of today’s workforce, the jobs created by Agriculture are myriad. A list of possible Agricultural careers can be found HERE.  Approximately 22 million jobs are directly related to Ag  And, countless more are affected by those jobs  in some way.

Agriculture has changed dramatically since Ag day was first instituted in 1973. While some would argue that the changes aren’t all for the good, the changes have allowed for progress in many other areas of society. Without the daily struggle to provide food and clothing for themselves, those with talents elsewhere are free to pursue their passions and innovations, benefiting the rest of society.

So...Agriculture isn’t just farms and farmers...it is the very fabric of all our lives and what keeps our nation running strong. Pretty much every aspect of our lives are affected by Agriculture. We should all strive to understand it just a little better and appreciate those dedicated to feeding, clothing, sheltering and fueling the world.

Happy Ag Day, y’all!


  1. You never talk about agriculture too much Barbara. I find your posts fascinating and informative - I have a picture in my mind of your farm and how it works season upon season and I enjoy every one of your posts, so keep it up. And good luck with the new season which will shortly begin in earnest.

    1. Thanks, Pat! I am really looking forward to the Market season.