From John R. Whitaker
State executive director, Iowa Farm Service Agency
I speak for the people working for USDA’s Iowa Farm Service Agency. We all are proud to be partners with the men and women who farm and ranch in Iowa. Agriculture is an honorable profession, and we are honored to do our part to help. We salute you on Ag Day, March 19 (today).
“Generations Nourishing Generations” is the theme for this year’s Ag Day. Our country’s farmers and ranchers work hard to provide food and clothing for our nation and the world. Their dedication is an inspiration to us and to the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Without them, we would not have the abundant food supply, the fiber, and the fuel we depend on daily.
Most Iowans have a connection to agriculture or to a farm when they look back to their own past generations. These generations might be parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or maybe an aunt, uncle, or cousin. And many Iowans have memories of getting up early and working hard until sundown. This work ethic is a value shared by all Iowans, which was learned from the generations that preceded each of us. These are the values that Iowa is known for.
On National Ag Day, we need to remember and appreciate the past generations that brought us to this point and to our current generation that is still involved in agriculture and farming. We appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that comes with the industry, like the dairy farmer, who milks twice a day, seven days a week. We are thankful for the long, hard hours, working to conserve the soil, caring for sick animals, welding equipment, or working to secure financing for next year’s planting.
According to recent USDA studies, the agricultural sector is a bright spot in terms of economic stability and growth, and there is a strong demand for U.S. agricultural products. With this stability, there is hope for a new generation of agricultural producers in Iowa, and the jobs that are needed to support the industry here in Iowa. Agriculture provides jobs and income for both our rural and urban generations and their communities.
In 1960, each U.S. farmer provided food for about 25 people. Today, each U.S. farmer feeds more than 144 people, an increase of over 500 percent. Generations of people have conducted research and developed new technologies which have boosted production, while the current generation of farmers and ranchers work to make it grow.
Let’s thank these men and women, and the generations that proceeded them, for a job well done. Agriculture is America’s number one export, critical to sustaining a healthy economy and needed to employ our future generations of Iowans. In our state alone, agriculture contributed $32.8 billion to the U.S. economy. We are ranked number one in the nation for corn, soybean and hog production. Currently, Iowa has 30.7 million acres of farmland dedicated to agricultural.
It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America. Our food is readily accessible and very safe. For this, we're unbelievably fortunate, even with last season’s severe weather and natural disasters, Iowa farmers and ranchers still prevailed to get the food and fuel to market.
This National Ag Day on March 19 is a good time to reflect - and be grateful for - American agriculture! To find more Ag Day information and events, visit the sponsoring Agricultural Council of American at www.agday.org.