It’s National Ag Day, and, farmers, we need you more than ever


Calling all farmers. Today, March 8, is your day: Happy National Ag Day!

(I was a little confused when it seemed like Ag Day came early this year. It used to fall near the first day of spring, but it was changed this year to coincide with big events planned in D.C., but, hey, who am I to question a little political co-opting of agriculture. Nothing new there. Move along.)

Regardless of the day, I think you should celebrate. For one day, once a year, it’s all about you.

We — those of us who don’t make a living from the good earth — need you. So few of us really know what you do, day in and day out. We have no clue about planting populations, or fly control, or picking the best genetics, or feed rations, or grain marketing, or you name it.

But I think we’re starting to realize how important you are in our daily lives. We are connected to you 24/7 — in what we eat, what we wear, the air that we breathe, the water that we drink.

We need your science, your stewardship, your social fiber. We need to feel connected to you because we rely so heavily on your work. We want to know you care about the quality of your work. We want to feel your passion.

We need to know that you’re continually striving to learn, to improve your farm’s natural resources and your own management skills. We want to know that every year, you try to get better at this art and science of agriculture.

“The effect of thorough cultivation upon the farmer’s own mind, and, in reaction through his mind, back upon his business, is perhaps quite equal to any other of its effects.” — Abraham Lincoln, 1859

Old Abe was pretty smart.

Perhaps more than anything, we want to know who you are. We want to see you, to put a face on our food provider and our soil conservationist. Our community founders, pioneers and leaders. We’d like you to be more visible, even though that thrusts you into an unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable, spotlight.

We like you, and think you have a pretty cool job, but we’d like to know more.

We want to try and make sense of what we read about farm subsidies and animal welfare and ethanol. We need your voice to explain things to us in ways we can understand. We’re listening, but sometimes the words of real farmers are too far away for us to hear. Could you please speak louder?

We like the end of Abe’s 1859 speech: “Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us, and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.”

So, dear farmers, here’s to the best cultivation of your physical world, and your intellectual and moral world. Our individual, social and political prosperity and happiness are linked to you. We need you.

By Susan Crowell

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