The first day of spring has arrived, and across the state farmers are beginning to prep their fields, and ranchers have new calves on the ground. March is also a time when producers, consumers, universities, government agencies, business and others gather to celebrate National Ag Day.
This year, the event was held on March 19, and states across the country held celebrations. In Nebraska, this included community tours, the announcement of the agricultural poster contest winners, and the unveiling by the Governor of the new Nebraska agricultural magazine.
“Agriculture is our state’s largest industry,” said Neb. Gov. Heineman. “Our farmers and ranchers work hard to raise the food, fuel and fiber we all use in our everyday lives. For those efforts, they deserve our appreciation.”
Governor Heineman was joined by Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann, Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, Nebraska Farm Bureau First Vice President Mark McHargue, and the Brian and Hilary Maricle family, farmers from Albion.
“As a fourth generation farmer in Nebraska, I understand the contribution agriculture brings to the state and the world. Agriculture is our state’s number one industry and it is important to raise awareness by celebrating National Agriculture week,” said Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann.
This year Heineman, Ibach and State Senator Ken Schilz joined Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson to visit Tecumseh, Papillion, and Wayne. The group discussed issues such as livestock development, agricultural career opportunities, and agriculture’s role in the state economy during events at each stop.
“For us, farming and ranching isn’t just a job. It’s a way of life. Our belief is that there are few higher callings than helping provide the fundamental needs of food, fiber and energy for others,” said Mark McHargue. “Fortunately we live in a state with land and natural resources that gives us the ability to carry out our mission in providing those basic needs not just for Nebraskans, but for people across the country and the world. We hope Nebraskans will join us during National Agriculture week in celebrating our state’s heritage in agriculture.”
Gov. Heineman also announced the NDA Agriculture Poster Contest award winners. Each year elementary students have the opportunity to discuss agriculture while creating a poster to submit to NDA. This year NDA had 2,987 entries, about double the usual amount.
“It’s a fun way for students to explore their knowledge of farming and ranching,” said Gov. Heineman. “They are always very creative.”
Ibach announced the availability of a new magazine called Nebraska Agriculture and You. The magazine, published by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), is designed to share information about the state’s agriculture industry with general consumers. The Maricles are featured in the magazine.
“These days many folks do not have a direct tie to a farm or ranch, so their knowledge of food production is limited. In addition, today’s agriculture is also about fuel and fiber and all the agribusinesses associated with these things,” said Ibach. He continued, “The magazine is designed to help people understand a little bit about each of these, as well as give them a grasp of how critical agriculture is to the economy in Nebraska.”
The goal of NDA is to circulate the free, annually-produced magazine in settings where the general public can enjoy it, such as office lobbies of doctors, dentists and hair salons. Nebraska FFA chapter members are helping deliver magazines to these types of locations in 20 of the largest communities.
“FFA students will be fanning out to these businesses in the next several weeks. We hope businesses will support this educational effort by placing the magazines in their lobbies,” said Ibach.
Magazines also will be direct-mailed to select locations in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island and circulated through public libraries, Cooperative Extension, and chambers of commerce.
On March 19, the Nebraska Farm Bureau interviewed Willow Holoubek of Alliance, Neb., for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN). In her interview she said, “In Nebraska, agriculture is the strongest pillar of our economy. We actually, in agriculture, are the largest producer of gross state product, and that amounts to about 26.2 billion dollars in Nebraska, so it truly is our number one industry with livestock farming being the largest impact of the industry.”
She continued, “Nebraska agriculture has many influences in our lives. Not only in the food that we consumer three times a day, but it also produces fiber for our clothing and our carpets, and what we have around us every day and it also helps power our vehicles with the industry of biofuels in Nebraska.”
Holoubek then talked about a context A-FAN is currently holding, that runs through the eighth of April, called Farmers Feed Us.
“It is a collaborative effort between five different agricultural organizations here in Nebraska, and it is a way that consumers, and people who eat our food can meet farmers in Nebraska. It is a website, where if you go to the website and watch a short video about Nebraska farmers and ranchers, you can enter to win $5,000 worth of free groceries. It’s an exciting campaign, and one that has reached about 90,000 Nebraskans at this point,” she said.
She added, “It is a wonderful way, if you are curious about where your food comes from, go on and talk with these five farmers. We also have a veterinarian video on the website, and a grocery video. It’s really a way to connect everyone with where their food comes from.”
National Ag Day is hosted by the Agriculture Council of America, and these have five ideals that they believe every American know: to understand how food, fiber and renewable resource products are produced; to value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; to appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products; to acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries.
“Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis, and is increasingly contributing to fuel and other bioproducts. Each year, members of the agricultural industry gather together to promote American agriculture. This effort helps educate millions of consumers,” the ACA stated. ❖
“We still run things on good old fashioned customer service. A lot of the reason why we can compete with bigger feed stores is because we treat people how they want to be treated, and they come back because of that.”
~ Danielle Nater, daughter of Dennis Nater, owner and operator of Northern Colorado Feeder’s Supply