Extension @ Your Service: A day to celebrate farmers

Did you know that March 18 is National Ag Day? It’s a great time to celebrate how well our farmers feed, fuel and clothe the world every day! Every last one of us is connected to agriculture, since we all wear clothes and eat at least three times a day.

Only a few generations ago, most Americans were directly involved in raising their own food. Today, that is no longer the case, since only 2 percent of the population works in agriculture. That is why it is so important that we join together within the community to share the positive message of ag.

Extension @ Your Service by Tiffanee Conrad

Extension @ Your Service
by Tiffanee Conrad

There are several organized groups out there that use scare tactics to try to convince consumers that the food they eat every day is not safe. In fact, America has the safest food in the world! Farmers follow strict environmental and safety practices and our food is inspected by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture or the United States Department of Agriculture.

In other words, please do not believe all the Facebook stories about conspiracies and unsafe food. Farmers are good people who protect the environment and treat their animals with care and respect.

As you are sitting down for a meal with your family today, don’t forget to not only thank the hands that prepared it, but also the hands that grew it. Farmers currently feed 46,000 people in Richmond County, 316 million in the United States and 7 billion in the world!

It’s hard to think about only 2 percent of the population being able to do that. Modern technology and scientific discoveries allow farmers to use the best production methods possible with the most efficiency.

There is no doubt that farming is hard work. Working in extreme temperatures, worrying about weather, long hours, pests, labor shortages and low profits is very stressful, but farmers love what they do. Most are not able to leave the farm long enough to take a vacation, since they have to be there seven days a week.

The average age of our farmers in Richmond County is 58.6 and lots of farm children grow up to take jobs off the farm. It’s good that we appreciate farmers and think about the affordable food available to us all the time. Our county is great in supporting important agricultural-related programs such as 4-H.

4-H helps our youth to gain an understanding of agriculture and our world. Lots of those youth then take careers in the industry or become advocates for agriculture.

This year, North Carolina is celebrating National Ag Day by hosting Ag Awareness Day in Raleigh. Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, earning $78 billion per year. This is expected to grow to $100 billion in the next seven years, which is why the theme is “Come Grow With Us.”

Richmond County Farm Bureau and the Richmond County Cooperative Extension are sponsoring a big group to attend Ag Awareness Day. Participants will meet with elected officials, see ag-related exhibits and celebrate the abundant contributions farmers provide to the world.

It’s important to appreciate Agriculture on National Ag Day, but also every single day of the year.

Tiffanee Conrad is Richmond County’s livestock agent at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Richmond County Center. She can be reached at 910-997-8255 or tiff_conrad@ncsu.edu.

Filed in: Farm & Ag, Latest Headlines, Opinion

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