National Agriculture Day occurs every year on the first day of spring, which fell this year on March 21.
It is a day to honor farmers for “providing safe, abundant and affordable products, a strong economy, a source of renewable energy, and a world of job opportunities,” according to organizers.
Anyone take you to breakfast or otherwise “honor” you farm readers March 21? Just as I thought.
So here’s my list of suggested ways nonfarm readers can best salute today’s farmers:
— Eat ‘local’ when you can. If there are local farmers near you who sell direct to consumers, support them. If local farmers provide goods to local supermarkets or other stores, make a point to look for these items and buy them. Then thank the store for carrying local farm goods.
— If you live in a rural area, but don’t farm, be an understanding neighbor. Not all country air is as sweet smelling as newly mown hay. There will be slow-moving vehicles on your roads, or there may be mud on your roads, or early Saturday morning tractor noises coming through your screened bedroom window.
— Don’t dump your cats out in the country. Or dogs. Or unwanted raccoons.
— Talk to us. Contrary to popular belief, farmers don’t bite. Most are actually pretty friendly. They may be busy (just like you), but most welcome a chance to tell you about their farm.
Go ahead and ask questions you think might be “stupid”. (Didn’t anyone ever tell you there are no stupid questions?) If you’re genuinely interested, they may show you around.
Before you believe the latest Internet blog rant about farm subsidies or large farms, why not ask a farmer for his opinion? You can always choose to disagree, but at least you’ll know where the other side is coming from. That’s all we ask.
— Recognize private property boundaries. Unless you own it or you know it’s part of a public land holding, that lovely meadow or lake or grove of trees is not an open playground. Don’t ride your ATVs along our fields or in our woods. Don’t fish in our ponds without permission. Don’t dump your hedge trimmings over the fence.
A farm is private property and unless you’re invited or have permission to be on it, you’re trespassing. And last time I checked, that was against the law.
— Understand that “sustainable” has to mean “profitable”, too. All the warm fuzzies in the world won’t pay the bills. Farming is a way of life, yes, but a farmer has to make money to survive. For his farm to survive.
It’s nice to have a National Agriculture Day to encourage folks to pause and consider farming’s impact. But it would be nicer to have that consideration year-round.