There are several events I always anticipate as winter turns to spring: the forward roll of clocks which affords a bit more sunlight after normal working hours; the coming of the Easter holiday; and National Agriculture Day -- the time we step back and recognize the industry and the people that anyone reading these words cares so much about. It is also an industry, and a people, that many U.S. citizens tended to take for granted before this past year happened.
National Ag Day 2021 is March 23. This year's celebration is especially memorable, as it comes as we mark the anniversary of a year of living under a global pandemic which changed so many things around how we live, how we connect, and how we eat.
The past year we've all watched as the country dealt with the challenges to deliver inputs to farms and haul commodities to processors, the issues of the meat packing industry, the sometimes empty food shelves, and the ability of the restaurant sector to deal with the pandemic. Everyone connected to agriculture and food has had to adapt in some way. This year's National Ag Day is, in many ways, a celebration of that adaptability.
This year's Ag Day is personally poignant for me, as I happen to be serving as the chair of the Agriculture Council of America, which among other activities is mostly responsible for organizing the National Ag Day activities. The Council and its sponsors have for months been working on Tuesday's activities. And while they'll never replace a physical celebration, I know I speak for the entire Council that we hope it reminds us all of how important agriculture is to everyone, a task echoed in the words of this year's theme: Food Brings Everyone to the Table.
You can register and participate in National Ag Day by going to www.agday.org.
The day will kick off with a message from new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. From there we'll hear from the heart of U.S. agriculture, as a collection of ag-state governors comment on the importance of agriculture in their regions, and what issues farmers and ranchers are facing.
We will recognize the 100 students who are participating in virtual conversations with their state representatives in Washington, D.C. Usually, these and more students travel to the Beltway and visit in person on Capitol Hill. This year they'll deliver their comments and concerns about support for agriculture via the internet due to COVID-19 restrictions.
You'll also hear from the winners of this year's essay and video contests. This is always a highlight for yours truly, as it amazes me of the clever ways these young minds discuss agriculture. Congratulations to Jaxon Rauber, High Point, North Carolina, essay winner and Keerthi Nalabotu, Pleasanton, California, who created the winning video. I hope you'll go to their section of the National Ag Day website and take in their thoughts about what farming and agriculture means to them.
It's been a strange year for all us, but especially for anyone involved in ag and the food industry. In his proclamation of National Agriculture Day, President Joe Biden comments on the many sacrifices by everyone in the food sector during the past year, and talks about the challenges yet to come. The proclamation is available through the Ag Day website, or a direct link to it is here:
I hope you'll participate in the events as you can, and in those in your local communities. Congratulations, and deep-felt thanks, to all of you who make agriculture happen.
Greg D. Horstmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @greghorstmeier
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