This week not only brings the start of spring but also National Agriculture Day on March 15. Most people didn’t even know such a day existed and haven’t heard anything about it!
The day was created and is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Agricultural Council of America (ACA) a group comprised of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community “dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society,” with the goal of “building awareness for—and appreciation of—the role of agriculture in our everyday lives.”
While this is an admirable goal, as somebody who writes about farming for a living, I have always been torn by this day.
Why? Because some of the businesses involved with the ACA and National Agriculture Day have followed some of the most unsustainable farming and business practices imaginable and have contributed greatly to global warming and other environmental problems.
But, the other side of me thinks that any day that celebrates and highlights the importance of farming and food in America is a good thing and that it’s wrong to paint all those involved in production agriculture, (i.e., farmers) in a negative light and that its important to let consumers know that most of those who do farm, do so with the environment and public health in mind.
Ultimately, I have concluded that what is most important is that we all have an awareness of the significance that agriculture plays in our daily lives because today, less than two percent of our population is now involved in production agriculture and has no idea where or how our food is grown and the other areas of our lives that agriculture touches.
Think about it. American agriculture not only provides the food and fiber we need to sustain us, but it affects almost everything in our lives. From the time you crawl out of the cotton sheets on your bed in the morning to the time you brush your teeth at night, agriculture is there. If you use products like paper, shampoo, crayons, buttons and shoes, then you are affected by agriculture.
To me, creating this awareness is even better if that means consumers will begin letting some of those sponsoring this day know that they need to do a better job of protecting our land, our environment, and our health by highlighting those that are using environmentally-friendly production practices, products, and methods.
Only then, can we begin to get the kind of sustainable food system we want. It is our job as consumers to let them know we want them to do this.
Ultimately as torn as I might feel about this day, awareness and an appreciation for the role that agriculture plays in providing, safe, abundant and affordable food truly is the only thing that really can change things.