In celebration and recognition of National Ag Week (March 15-21, 2015) and National Ag Day (March 18, 2015), I’ve put together my top 5 reasons for celebrating agriculture this year.
1. Our farmers are doing more with less!
Today’s farmer feeds 144 people. That’s an increase from the 1960’s, when each farmer only fed about 25 people. How have we been able to make such a dramatic increase? Technology, of course. The use of biotechnology alone has allowed us to make drastic improvements – it has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and even increased farmer profits by 68%. But that’s just the beginning! Technology has given us better farming equipment and tools. Consider the increased use of GPS. We can now be more accurate in our fields. Combined with soil sciences, GPS allows us to know exactly what parts of the fields are lacking key nutrients so that we can treat those sections, instead of applying treatments to the whole field. The best part is that these things are good for farmers too, so many employed in agriculture are all too happy to implement the technologies.
2. Protecting the environment and our natural resources is an integral part of the industry.
This one is just common sense, truly, and the truth is all around us. Michigan’s Centennial Farm Program is the perfect example. To qualify for this designation “a property must be a working farm of 10 or more acres that has been continuously owned by the same family for at least 100 years.” (Source: Consumers Energy in Your Community) I’ll share a little secret with you – farms aren’t going to be viable and productive for that long if the family farming that land isn’t taking care of it. It’s in our best interest to protect our soils and our water supply. As we learn more about the world around us, we’re able to do a better job of it. Environmental stewardship is one of the basic responsibilities of farming.
3. There are over 7 billion people in the world – and we feed all of them!
Now, I fully recognize that not all 7 billion people in our world are properly fed. Unfortunately, there are many parts of the world, including here in the United States, where people don’t have enough to eat. We can do better. We can always do better. But let’s take a minute and celebrate that there are a whole lot of people in the world that do have enough to eat. The fear of famine just isn’t something that clouds our immediate futures. Unlike in the past, most of us have some security knowing that our food supply isn’t going to run out just because there is a drought or natural disaster that ruins this year’s crops. For many of us, we are able to experience food security, and that’s something to celebrate.
4. Our food supply is diverse, abundant, and safe!
While blogging, I’ve run into far too many activists that have become convinced that our food supply is anything but safe, which has actually allowed me to appreciate that it is safe! Many of us take this fact for granted. In fact, most of us do. But if you really stop to think about it, our food system is pretty remarkable. We’re able to enjoy fruits and vegetables all year. Although many of us will probably have a run in with food poisoning at some point, it isn’t something we’re concerned about when we sit down to eat the vast majority of meals we’ll consume in our lives. In reality, we’re able to enjoy what we want, when we want, and how we want it. That’s not a privilege found all around the world and that makes it something we can celebrate.
5. Agriculture is sustaining future generations.
Of course, this is the theme of Ag Day 2015 and it makes sense. The things we’re doing today – improving efficiency and protecting the environment – will ensure that we’re able to produce quality food for generations to come. By the year 2050, the world’s population is expected to be 9 billion! That’s a lot!! The foundations we lay now will eventually help us feed all those hungry people.