2014 NATIONAL AGRICULTURE WEEK AND AGRICULTURE DAY

Frankly, 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 how it's made possible. National Ag Day falls on March 24th during National Ag Week which is March 20-26, 2014. The theme for this year is appropriately - "Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed"." Farms both big and small have a proud tradition of nourishing generations. That is why people like me are encouraging consumers from all walks of life to learn more about farmers' roles in providing nourishment for our families, our animals and our soil.
One out of three Nebraskans derive their income from working directly with agriculture. Cash receipts from farm marketing contributed over $24 billion to Nebraska's economy in 2012 which translated into a record net farm income of over $7.5 billion and 6.2 percent of the U.S. total. Nebraska has a vibrant export market and we need to remember that every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.29 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production. Nebraska's $7.3 billion in agricultural exports in 2012 translate into $9.4 billion in additional economic activity. You can find where Nebraska ranks nationally in ag commodities by going to: www.nda.nebraska.gov/facts.pdf
Nebraska's top five agricultural exports in 2012 were soybeans, corn, beef and veal, feeds and fodder, and grain products. In 2013, Nebraska ranked second in ethanol production capacity, with 23 operating plants having production capacity of 1.96 billion gallons. Over 40% of the State's 2012 corn crop was utilized in ethanol production. This all was done on Nebraska's 49,969 farms and ranches that have an average operation size of 907 acres. Nebraska's average net income per farm was $119,002 during the 2008-2012 period with a considerable amount of income and property taxes that went to each of our communities. Obviously that means a lot to our state in terms of how important the agricultural industry is to our economy and to every segment of our society that depends upon our largest industry.
It behooves us to honor National Agriculture Day and join in with thousands of these other agriculturalists to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. Our very existence may depend upon when and how we tell our story. It is important - particularly on a day like National Ag Day – for all of us to show our gratitude to the many men and women who make agriculture possible. Our nation's first President, George Washington, wrote, "I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture". Farmers and ranchers are those responsible for supplying a safe and abundant food supply.
We know that food and fiber doesn't just arrive at the grocery or clothing store . . . or magically appear on our dinner table, or in our closet. There's an entire industry dedicated to providing plentiful and safe food for consumption . . . as well as a wide range of comfortable, fashionable clothing choices. We rely on agriculture for the very necessities of life. Did you know American agriculture not only provides you food and clothing, but is working harder than ever to meet the needs of Americans, and others all round the world? Did you know that agriculture products are America's #1 export? And of great importance with new technology farmers are more environmentally friendly than ever before. American agriculture is not just producing more food it's producing higher quality goods. And it's important to remember that American agriculture is not just doing it, but doing it better and more effectively!
An under-rated less than 2 percent of our population involved in modern agriculture produces enough food for all 6.3 billion souls worldwide. With today's successful commercial agriculture, one U.S. farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people and is the leading producer of more than 50 foods of importance to diets throughout the world. In 1940, the average U.S. farmer fed only 19 people. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more with less - and doing it better. Farm families are overcoming increasing challenges to provide this food. They face increasing pressures on farm and ranch land, including excess regulations and paperwork requirements, tax uncertainty, high input costs, limited water, emerging pests and plant and animal diseases. You can find more at: www.agweb.com/farmersfeedingtheworld/
As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States. We will need to provide enough food and fiber for 9 billion people by the year 2050; a daunting task that will be taken on by your Nebraska and American Farmers. American farmers are working harder than ever, and it shows. The need for food produced in the United States is dramatic. Agriculture is this nation's #1 export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy. And it's not just the farmer who makes our food possible. The entire agriculture industry, from farm to all the way to the grocery store, is full of vital links in a chain that brings food to every citizen - and millions of people abroad. That's really what this day is all about . . . recognizing the role of agriculture - and celebrating it!

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