In recognition of National Ag Day on March 8, 2012, John Whitaker, state executive director for the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Iowa, along with Rich Sims, state conservationist for Iowa's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Bill Menner, Iowa's state director for USDA's Rural Development agency thanked farmers, ranchers and others involved in agriculture for their hard work and commitment to the industry and to their rural communities.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey also recognized National Ag Day this past week, saying "setting aside this special day provides an opportunity to celebrate all of the many good things and contributions that agriculture makes to this state." Read more of Northey's observations at the end of this article, but first let's look at the milestone birthday of USDA this year and how that ties in to all of this.
National Ag Day has more meaning this year as USDA is 150 years old
"National Agriculture Day has more meaning to USDA this year, especially with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack's recent kick off commemorating the department's 150th Anniversary in 2012 and the new resources in the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative," said Whitaker. "American agriculture is an important part of our daily lives and is often forgotten. Agriculture is constantly seeking advances in science, research, technology, to provide safe, abundant and affordable food, fuel and fiber to meet changing consumer demands and for complex world markets."
The USDA's founder, President Abraham Lincoln called it the People's Department. "The Know Your Farmer, Know your Food" initiative is USDA's most recent commitment to reflect this, Whitaker added.
U.S. agriculture today accounts for one-fifth of our nation's economic activity
Today, the U.S. agriculture sector is almost entirely under private ownership and counts for nearly one-fifth of the nation's economic activity.
"The viability of rural America is so vital to our nation," said Menner. "These are the places that help support American agriculture and foster an ethic that impacts our workforce, our military and our economy. The USDA is working with producers and communities to create jobs, expand opportunities, encourage innovation and build a strong foundation for the future."
"American farmers and ranchers ensure a sustainable resource base for future generations and work to protect and conserve our natural resources each day of the year," added Sims.
USDA reminds all Americans of the important role of agriculture in their daily lives
USDA is reminding all Americans of the preeminent role that agriculture plays in their daily lives, and in the future process and prosperity of the nation's economy. National Agriculture Day provides a great opportunity for everyone to take a moment to thank farmers and ranchers, and all who have a role in the production and safe delivery of our food, fiber and fuel.
The Know Your Farmer, Know your Food initiative recently launched a new web site at www.usda.gov/kyfcompass. Here you can learn about resources to develop local and regional food enterprises, see USDA supported local and regional food projects and watch videos documenting how others are building strong local and regional food businesses, expanding local food production on their farms, and making changes in their communities. For more information about National Ag Day, visit www.agday.org and to learn more about USDA or the local food initiatives, visit www.usda.gov.
Northey: "Ag Day is an opportunity to celebrate all of what Iowa agriculture contributes to this state"
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said that National Ag Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions agriculture makes to the state. National Ag Day was celebrated this year on March 8, 2012 and is designed to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture, he notes.
"On a day designed to recognize the abundance provided by agriculture, Iowa has a lot to celebrate," Northey said. "Iowa is the national leader in the production of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs and ethanol while also being among leaders in the number of farmers markets. A wide variety of agribusinesses, biotechnology, renewable energy and other ag related businesses also have their home here. All of this is due to the quality of our land and the productivity of our farmers."
Total cash sales from our farms have nearly than doubled from $12.2 billion in 2002 to $23.2 billion in 2010. Preliminary estimates show agriculture sales from Iowa farms could be close to $30 billion in 2011.
In 2011 Iowa farmers again lead the nation in production of:
- Corn (2.36 billion bushels, 172 bushels per acre, 19% of U.S. total)
- Soybeans (466 million bushels, 50.5 bushels per acres, 15% of U.S. total)
- Hogs (19.8 million on hand, 30% of U.S. total)
- Eggs (52.1 million layers, 14.5 billion eggs)
Iowa is second nationally in red meat production, cash receipts, net farm income and overall agriculture export value of $7 billion. Iowa farmers are also in the top ten nationally in turkey, dairy, beef, goat and lamb production
"Iowa was founded because of agriculture and it continues to be our state's leading industry," Northey said. "National Ag Day is an opportunity to highlight all that agriculture means to Iowa, but also all that Iowa agriculture means to the world."
The agriculture products raised in Iowa are in strong demand around the world. Iowa is second nationally in overall agriculture export value with $7 billion in exports annually. In addition to exporting the agricultural goods raised in the state, the ag technologies developed and built in Iowa are also in demand around the world. This includes livestock production systems, crop production equipment, seed technology and others.
The top five importers of Iowa agricultural, value added and manufactured goods are Canada, Mexico, Japan, China and Germany. "Iowa is a national and international leader in agriculture and well positioned to continue to grow," Northey added.