Thank a farmer for National Ag Week
March 15, 2016
Agriculture touches everyone's lives, whether they realize it or not. To celebrate the industry that provides food, economic opportunity, jobs and so much more, states across the U.S. are celebrating agriculture either March 15 for National Agriculture Day, March 14-19 for National Agriculture Week or the entire month of March.
The celebration started as a day-long one in 1973, but as the Agriculture Council of America — the organization in charge of the yearly program — grew, so did the amount of time states dedicate to it.
The month, week and day are used as a time to talk about, promote and educate people about agriculture and its role in the states celebrating.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture began its month-long celebration with a food drive kick-off March 2 at the Harvester Community Food Bank in Topeka, Kan.
“Agriculture is imperative in Wyoming.”
"We did a food packing event and talked about the role of Ag in Kansas," said Heather Lansdowne, the director of communication for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
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Lansdowne said agriculture is responsible for about 43 percent of the state's economy and 12 percent of the state's workforce. Since it's such a big part of the state, the month long celebration will be used to remind folks about what agriculture is and the role it plays through a social media and education campaign.
Part of the education process will be a virtual tour available online to show at schools across the state. Last year's tour was a 43-minute look into what a dairy farm is and looks like.
Kansas will wrap up its ag month with the food drive's completion.
Promotion is an integral part in most states' celebrations. Nebraska's weeklong event will start March 14 with a four-stop tour across the state.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Secretary of Agriculture Greg Ibach and other industry leaders will fly to different parts of the state to discuss property tax relief, agriculture protection, the promotion of a health export market and the proposed Transportation Innovation Act, which could help with the cost for road and bridge work.
The day-long state tour will start at 9 a.m. March 14 in Hastings, Neb., followed by a stop at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. in McCook and Falls City, respectively. The final stop will be at 6:30 p.m. in Omaha.
In Colorado, the celebration will be a one-day event, but with a tasty twist — Ag Day at the Capitol, which started at least 15 years ago, according to David Collie, event chair for the Colorado Agricultural Council. There will be a cook-off between 10 Colorado chefs using Colorado-grown foods.
"The event is a good opportunity to really see what's going on with farmers and ranchers," Collie said.
Ag Day at the Capitol starts at 10:45 a.m. March 16. Along with the cook-off, the event will be an opportunity to talk about the importance of the industry for the state to lawmakers.
"It's really interesting, not a lot of funding goes towards farming and ranching, but it adds so much towards the economy," Collie said.
North of Colorado's border, Wyoming will focus on education. Letting people know the importance of agriculture through different mediums is the focus, rather than one or two events.
"Agriculture is imperative in Wyoming," said Derek Grant, public information officer for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
Grant said agriculture is a major reason for the wide-open spaces and Western culture many associate with the state, but few realize it.
Ag is one of the top factors to Wyoming's economy, as well as the country's, which is why different cities and states celebrate the day in different ways. But the biggest takeaway is to educate and remind people how important the ag industry is to the day-to-day lives of people.
"If you have the opportunity, talk and get to know those in the agriculture industry," Collie said. ❖