About National Ag Day
National Ag Day, recognized on March 21, celebrates the hard-working Americans who provide the products you need every day. Agriculture workers are responsible for producing not only the food on your table but also the clothes on your back. When you think of agriculture, you may immediately picture a farmer in a field, but there are many other important roles involved in food and textile production. From processing to distribution, and everything in between, this week we celebrate those who make the business of agriculture possible.
Agriculture, first and foremost, starts with education. This not only includes educators at the high school and college levels, but also crop consultants, water quality specialists, soil conservationists and many others working day in and day out to improve and grow the farm industry.
The world of agriculture is changing rapidly and it’s easy to see why. In 2016, the world population grew by 77 million, which included an increase of 2.2 million people in the United States*. With more people to feed and clothe and ever changing climate and farming guidelines, more efficient production methods are necessary. Engineers are responsible for keeping up with the growing demands put on the agricultural community by designing new farm equipment, water line systems, and processing plants, to name a few. They are even responsible for the management of pollution and protection of water resources. Without innovative engineers, agriculture would not be able to efficiently and effectively serve our growing world.
Teaching agriculture and designing ways to improve yields are important, but at the end of the day, someone must produce a final product. There are countless workers who dedicate their lives to the production of food and textiles. Farmers and farm hands, ranchers, soil scientists, loggers, stable managers, plant and animal breeders, and veterinarians are just a few, but there are much more. All of these people work countless hours to enhance the quality of the products you eventually enjoy.
Almost everything produced on a farm needs to be processed before it can be sold to a consumer. Simple produce may just need washing or trimming, which can often be done on site. Cotton and leather are sent to plants to create textiles for clothes, upholstery and many other everyday items. In 2012, for instance, Carhartt purchased 16 million pounds of cotton from Mt. Vernon mills in Georgia. Cotton that was then processed into fabric and used to make rugged workwear.
Butchers, factory line works and machine operators all play a role in agricultural processing. In fact, one product could go through a variety of factories and processing steps before it’s ready for market.
The distribution of goods is one of the last, and often most overlooked, steps of getting agricultural products to the consumer. This critical job relies on freight drivers, railroad operators, dockworkers, sales representatives, warehouse staff, and countless others. Don’t think distribution is a big deal? According to the Association of American Railroads, the transportation of agricultural products via freight rail alone supports over 28,500 jobs!
Lastly are the people involved in making products available to you. This is where retailers like us come in! While providing a market to sell goods to consumers is an important role too, none of it would be possible without the dedicated workers further upstream – many of which we are proud to call customers and, more importantly, friends. In celebration of National Ag Day, we want to thank everyone associated with this essential industry. Your hard work, dedication, and commitment are the backbone of this country. Thanks for everything you do.
*U.S. Census Bureau, 2016