By Julie Tomascik
Today, many celebrations and rallies will honor Earth Day. But for farmers and ranchers, who are #stillfarming through the COVID-19 pandemic, every day is Earth Day.
They care for the land and resources. They care for their crops and livestock. They care for their families, too. All 365 days of the year.
Being a farmer and rancher means shaking hands with Mother Nature. Because the sun, soil and water are their business partners.
But never have challenges been greater for agriculture. More than 1.5 million acres of U.S. farmland are lost each year to development. Weather extremes like drought or hurricanes can overtake farmers’ best efforts. There’s growing competition for water and other resources, too.
To meet these challenges, farmers and ranchers adapt and change. New technologies focus on productivity and efficiency, helping farmers and ranchers grow more food with less water, fertilizer and chemicals.
Farmers and ranchers are at the forefront of climate-smart farming. They use scientific solutions, technology and innovation to protect our resources. Because of their continuous efforts, U.S. agriculture contributes just 10% to overall greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector. What’s more, when you factor in land management and forestry practices, agriculture boasts net emissions of -2%.
When you dig even deeper, you’ll find out that farmers and ranchers continue to strive to do better every day. Not just on Earth Day.
American farmers and ranchers are doing more with less. Chew on these facts about agricultural sustainability:
- Compared to 1990, farmers would have needed almost 100 million additional acres to harvest the same amount of corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat they produced in 2018.
- In the past nearly 30 years:
- Milk production increased 48%, while per-unit emissions declined by almost 26%
- Beef production increased 18%, while per-unit emissions have fallen more than 8%
- Pork production increased 80%, while per-unit emissions have fallen nearly 20%
- More than 140 million acres of U.S. farmland are used for conservation efforts and wildlife habitats. That land area is equal to the states of California and New York combined.
Everyone—farmers, ranchers and consumers—want a sustainable future.
And that sustainable food future is possible with the environment and agriculture working hand-in-hand. To feed those in our communities, nation and world. To help shape our future by always striving for improvement.
It’s a 365-day promise for wise use of soil, water and energy from farmers and ranchers like these below.
Today, they’ll tip their caps in salute to the good earth and keep growing the food that sustains us all. Because for farmers and ranchers, every day is Earth Day.