By Julie Tomascik
Agriculture is food, fiber and fuel. But it’s also a variety of careers—education, communications, food safety and service, science, engineering, legal and more. It’s caring for our environment and natural resources, too. And it’s all celebrated on National Ag Day.
This year marks the 49th anniversary of National Ag Day, and the theme is “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.”
National Ag Day recognizes and celebrates the farmers and ranchers who work the land and fuel America, 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 also 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%.
We all want a sustainable future, and that isn’t possible without farmers and ranchers working hand-in-hand with the environment.
Farmers and ranchers work year-round to provide a safe supply of food, fiber and fuel for a growing world population and those right in their own communities. They care for their livestock and are committed to protecting the land that makes it possible.
A hungry world is counting on that dedication.
That’s why the National Ag Day program encourages every American to:
- understand how food and fiber is produced using climate-smart farming practices,
- appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products,
- value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy,
- and acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber sector.
And we have so many reasons to celebrate here in the Lone Star State. We often boast that everything is bigger in Texas. That’s true when it comes to agriculture, too.
Texas leads the nation in the number of farms, with 248,416 farms and ranches covering 127 million acres of land, or about 74% of all acreage in the Lone Star State.
About 98% of those farms are family-owned or family-held corporations.
The state’s varied climates and soil types enable farmers to grow a wide selection of crops, including grains, fiber, timber, fruits and vegetables. Texans are especially well-known for raising cattle, but sheep, goats, poultry and hogs are major sectors of the Texas agricultural economy, as well.
The economic impact of farms, ranches and related businesses totals more than $100 billion annually, and agriculture employees one out of every seven working Texans.
American agriculture is a part of all of us. Its products allow us to survive and flourish.
National Ag Day is more than just one day out of the year. It’s all 365 days. Each one is as important as the other.