Ag Day 2013 pays tribute to state’s farmers, ranchers

March 17, 2013 

Morning breakfast: cereal and milk — grains and dairy produced by Washington farmers. Lunch: split pea soup, salad and apple slices — dry peas, lettuce greens and apples grown in Washington. Dinner — hamburger or lentil burger, baked potato, carrots and blueberry cobbler — beef, lentils, potatoes, carrots, blueberries and wheat all raised by Washington farmers and ranchers.

Tuesday is National Ag Day, a day to reflect on where our food comes from and to honor those who work hard to ensure we have plenty to eat. “Generations nourishing generations” is the theme for this year's Ag Day.

Our nation’s farmers and ranchers work hard to provide food and clothing for our country and the world. Their dedication is an inspiration to us and to the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Without them, we would not have the abundant food supply, the fiber and the fuel we depend on daily.

Let’s thank Washington’s farmers and ranchers for a job well done. Agriculture is America’s No. 1 export, and critical to sustaining a healthy economy. In our state alone, it employs 160,000 people and contributes $46 billion, or 13 percent, to the state economy. The state ranks first in the U.S. for production of eleven commodities, including apples, sweet cherries, pears, red raspberries and hops.

Washington has 39,500 farms dedicated to agricultural production. Raising about 300 commodities, the states agriculture is the second most diverse in the nation. Some of our major agricultural products are milk, wheat, potatoes and hay.

According to recent USDA studies, the agricultural sector right now remains a bright spot in terms of economic stability and growth, and there is a strong demand for U.S. agricultural products.

Agricultural producers in Washington are getting up early every day to keep this sector of the economy healthy, providing jobs and income for rural and urban families and communities.

In 1960, each U.S. farmer provided food for about 25 people. Today, each U.S. farmer feeds more than 144 people, an increase of more than 500 percent. Research and new technologies have boosted production, but someone still has to go outdoors and make things grow.

Without regard for the wind, rain, snow, freeze, fire and drought, the farmer and the rancher can be found tending the crops, flock or herd, and doing it well.

Even with nature’s uncertainty, American farmers and ranchers still have prevailed to get the food and fuel to market.

It’s easy to take agriculture for granted in America. Our food is readily accessible and safe. For this, we’re unbelievably fortunate, but that doesn't mean we don't have an obligation to recognize who makes it possible.

This National Ag Day is a good time to reflect — and be grateful for — American agriculture!

To find more Ag Day information and events, visit the sponsoring Agricultural Council of American at www.agday.org. Judy Olson is state executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency.

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