This past pandemic year has made us appreciate more than ever how much we depend on the work of Iowa farm families.
As spring planting season approaches and farmers return to the fields, Iowans are invited to help celebrate National Ag Day March 23 to recognize the contribution of agriculture and farmers in our everyday lives.
After all, agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear each day — not just on Ag Day.
However, fewer Americans today understand the work that farmers do and how our food is grown and raised.
Farm and ranch families comprise less than 2% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). One U.S. farm today feeds about 166 people here in the U.S. and abroad annually.
Thanks to the productivity and hard work of U.S. farmers, Americans spent an average of 9.5% of their disposable personal incomes on food in 2019, a historical low, the USDA reports.
Agriculture and its related industries also provide 10.9% of U.S. employment, the USDA says.
Now that we’re spending more time at home, you can participate in virtual National Ag Day events or get the kids involved in celebrating Ag Day as a fun springtime activity. We’ve got a week’s worth of ideas to help get you started:
1) Make a farm-to-table meal for your family, using locally grown meat, produce or take-home meals. Buy local meats at a nearby meat locker, or shop online at Iowa-based Chop Local (https://choplocal.com/).
2) Plan an activity to teach kids (or adults) about the importance of agriculture. Find lesson plans and ideas for fun learning activities on the Iowa Agricultural Literacy Foundation’s website at www.iowaagliteracy.org.
3) Share what agriculture means to you in a photo on social media— whether it’s the ingredients for your dinner, a rural landscape or filling up with ethanol at the gas pump. Use the hashtag #FoodforLife or #AgDay.
4) Research agriculture issues impacting Iowa by checking out the latest stories from Iowa Farm Bureau’s Spokesman online at www.iowafarmbureau.com or listening to “The Spokesman Speaks” podcast, available on popular podcast apps.
5) Follow the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation on Facebook and Instagram to get daily insight how food is grown and raised, watch a virtual FarmChat from a farm, and discover Ag in the Classroom activities near you.
6) Throw a cook-off party (virtually or outdoors) with friends. Try to incorporate ingredients your state is known for, such as pork, beef, eggs or dairy, etc.
7) Give back to your community. Donate to a local food pantry; organize a Meals from the Heartland (https://mealsfromtheheartland.org/) food packaging event at your church, school or civic organization; or make a donation to the Iowa 4-H, Iowa FFA or Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation to support ag education efforts in the state.