WASHINGTON – As the national agriculture community joins together to celebrate National Agriculture Day, National Farmers Union (NFU) is recognizing family farmers and ranchers for the wide array of contributions they make to consumers’ everyday life. This year’s National Ag Day theme is “Food for Life.”
“National Ag Day provides a special opportunity to highlight family farm agriculture and why it is of vital importance to our communities and to our country,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Americans have access to an abundance of safe and affordable food when we visit the grocery store because of the daily sacrifices of family farmers and ranchers. When we stop by the gas station, we’re paying less for gasoline because of biofuels grown by family farmers. Nearly half of our nation’s land is taken care of by family farmers, and our waterways and ecosystems benefit from their stewardship. Whether you’re from a rural town, a big city, or somewhere in between, you benefit economically, environmentally, and socially from family farm agriculture.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, family-run farming operations make up 99 percent of America’s 2.1 million farms and 89 percent of agricultural production. Important to National Farmers Union’s mission is ensuring consumers understand the scope of these family farmers’ contributions to their daily lives.
“One trend that continues to this day is the widening divide between consumers and the people who produce their food, fiber and fuel,” said Johnson. “It’s important we recognize that there are families out there who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that the rest of us can enjoy the modern conveniences we do. And it’s even more important for us as a country to support these families as much as they support us.”
Johnson noted that one way consumers can support family farmers is by supporting what is known as the “Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill is federal legislation that provides a safety net for farmers when the farm economy drops, conservation programs to aid land stewardship, and nutrition programs, like SNAP, to protect consumers when they can’t afford to buy food.
“Most consumers are probably unaware of the current economic crisis facing many farmers today,” said Johnson. “The farm economy plummeted 50 percent from 2013-2016, and it has remained in this severely depressed state for the past two years. In fact, more than half of all farmers have had negative farm income in recent years. At this rate, we’re looking at losing a significant number of family farmers in the coming years if we don’t have an adequate safety net in place. And that safety net comes from the Farm Bill.”
Johnson encouraged consumers to visit 2018FarmBill.org to learn more about the Farm Bill and its programs. Visitors to the website can also learn how to advocate for a Farm Bill that supports family farmers, beginning farmers, and strong environmental and nutrition programs.
Johnson also urged all family farmers and ranchers to celebrate National Ag Day by making sure they are counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The deadline for filling out the census was extended through this spring.