Today is National Agricultural Day – the day designated to celebrate American agriculture and the abundance of food it provides.
It’s a day, too, to consider who makes that abundance of food possible.
You can’t be in agriculture for long without realizing the people are who agriculture, and the values that underpin what they do every day.
The people are the farm families, the people who, despite all the hoopla about “corporate” and “industrial” agriculture, are still responsible for most of the food production in the United States. Ninety-eight percent of farms in America are owned by families.
The values are pride and humility.
Talk with a farm family, and you quickly learn about their pride. It’s not pride in themselves. It’s pride in their children and grandchildren, pride in their communities, pride in their friends, and pride in their country.
Ask them what’s important about their communities, and they will tell you this: a community is a place, but it is also the people living in that place. It’s people who know each other and support each other. It’s the community institutions that bring people together, like the school, the town, the coffee shop. They understand the connection between what they do – agriculture – and the health of the community they live in, work in, enjoy life in, raise their children in, and one day will be buried in.
Ask them what’s important about their country, and they will point to the children they’ve sent to fight for, and sometimes die for, America.
While they talk, you hear the humility. Farm families take what they every day very seriously, and they will tell you that as hard as it can be, they’re blessed to be able to do it. They’re humbled by the responsibility they’ve been given – that’s their word, given – for being stewards of their farms and the land. Good stewards.
You hear the intelligence, too, and the courage. Farming is not for fainthearted. I know a farm family in northwest Iowa that had to stare down the impact of last year’s drought and said, “We have to be ready for next year. This, too, is from the Lord.”
Farm families have their worries. Will their children be able to afford the land to farm? Will the schools stay vibrant? Can more people be attracted to living in small towns? And then there’s the weather, always the weather.
But they’re in agriculture for the long haul. It’s what they know; it’s what they do. It’s what they do every day.
And because of what they do, the rest of us have abundant, affordable food on our tables.
From our families to their families, thank you for the blessing of American agriculture.
Monsanto is a sponsor of National Agriculture Day, but all the work is done by farmers.
Ryan Goodman at Agriculture Proud has compiled a list of posts by farm bloggers writing about their thoughts and observations on National Agriculture Day.