Help celebrate National Ag Day

It recognizes the many contributions of American agriculture

After an at-times trying winter, spring is about to arrive.

As another growing season approaches, Thursday has been set as National Ag Day by the Agriculture Council of America. The council designates the week within which it falls as National Ag Week. This important time to celebrate agriculture began Sunday.

One goal of Ag Day is to recognize the contribution agriculture makes in the lives of all of us. The council sponsors and encourages programs during Ag Week that help Americans:

• understand how food and fiber products are produced,

• appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products,

• value the essential role of agriculture in maintining a strong economy

• acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

While it seems unlikely that many Iowans need to be reminded that agriculture is vital to this state, this is a good time to recall just how impressive American agriculture truly has become.

According to the ACA, there are 3.75 million Americans employed full- and part-time in agriculture, including forestry, fishing and other activities. In comparison, the tech sector supports 4.3 million jobs. If one were to look at food-related industries, the numbers jump way up. In fact, one in 12 American jobs is dependent on agriculture.

This country produces far more agricultural products than Americans can consume. The resulting exports help offset trade deficits in other areas of the economy. In fact, agricultural products are this country’s No. 1 export. One in three U.S. farm acres is planted for export.

The agricultural sector in the United States has become incredibly efficient at producing a wide array of products. Americans spend less on food than people in any other developed nation. The ACA says we Americans spend only 2 percent of our disposable income on meat and poultry. As recently as 1970, it was 4.1 percent.

With the planet’s population projected to grow to 7.5 billion by 2020, people everywhere have good reason to give thanks for the magnificent success story that is American agriculture.

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