By Greg D. Horstmeier
Happy Ag Day!
Sounds a little strange typing those words, when just a short time ago I was planning to be saying them aloud to an audience in Washington, D.C.
Every year I look forward to National Ag Day celebrations, but none more so than this year as I'm honored to serve as chairman of the Agriculture Council of America, which is the shepherding group for Ag Day activities. We had a wonderful day of events planned on the National Mall, at the USDA Whitten Patio, and all around the Capitol area, all aimed to truly celebrate agriculture's importance to the nation.
Alas, the new coronavirus got in the way of that, as it has done to so many things society planned to do for the past week and for the foreseeable future.
But agriculture is stronger than any virus, and there is a need to celebrate what all of you, and all of us in the industry, do for the world.
The theme for this year's Ag Day celebrations is Food Brings Everyone to the Table. Nothing could have been more prescient than that, considering how as a nation and a world we're all gathered around our home tables more than ever as we hunker down and practice social distancing to avoid advancing the spread of COVID-19.
The broader meaning of that theme is just as strong. Food, and therefore agriculture, is indeed an essential industry. Even the folks at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security named agriculture as one of the 16 industries critical to combating and dealing with the coronavirus situation https://www.cisa.gov/….
To learn more about National Ag Day, browse Agday.org, and page through the various sections. I'd specifically point you to this year's Ag Day Essay winner, Eli Mittermeyer of Lorraine, Illinois. His marvelous essay on the importance of agriculture and food and fiber production can be found here: https://www.agday.org/… .
Eli's words truly hit home when he speaks of farmers' ability to take on challenges.
Also featured on those pages is the winning video essay of Samantha Gerges of Mansfield, Texas. Samantha united a variety of beautifully shot video and well-crafted words to tell the story of how we all gather around the table that is agriculture's bounty.
Both of these impressive young agriculturalists receive $1,000 for their winning entries. They were also supposed to have the chance to show off their efforts in front of the Ag Day participants. That, too, was sidelined due to circumstances beyond their control.
So join me in helping them get that chance virtually by watching and reading their essays and by forwarding them to friends and family through your social media and regular channels. They're simply outstanding, and we should all be proud that they focused some of their creativity and energy on the industry we all care so much about.
The need for food and feedstuffs has been a rallying point in so many efforts, from the financial world recommending leniency in loan repayments for farmers, ranchers and others to local individuals offering to deliver groceries to virus-susceptible neighbors or others who can't venture out to shop on their own. Farmer-to-market business owners are also scrambling to find creative ways to continue to serve their customers and those in need.
We have so much to celebrate in agriculture, every day. But this Ag Day, in particular, as we work to help each other, to look out for one another, which is just so part and parcel with how we in farming think and act anyway, we should truly stop and take a minute to be both thankful and proud for all that agriculture represents, and will continue to represent.
Have an AWESOME, safe and healthy Ag Day.
Greg D. Horstmeier can be reached at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter @greghorstmeier
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