I don’t celebrate the day specifically because I celebrate agriculture the entire year. I know it sounds corny, but there’s just not enough time in one day to celebrate the depth and breadth of agriculture, especially in Iowa.
When I think about the things to celebrate in agriculture, I think about farmers like Phil Reemtsma, a cattle farmer and veterinarian in DeWitt. Reemtsma also leads the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. I think of his commitment not only to his family, but also to the animals in his care.
I also think about the poultry growers in the state, like Mark Herrig, who was forced to depopulate 43,000 turkeys on his farm due to avian influenza last year. He’s back in the business because of his perseverance and dedication to the industry.
I think about farmers like Dave Struthers, Al Wulfkuhle and Chad Ingels. All are pig farmers and leaders in the industry. And they each have their own way of caring for and raising their pigs.
I think about sheep farmers who are using science to improve the genetics of their animals. These farmers are leaders in their industry, and are working with technology to build a stronger industry in Iowa.
When I think about agriculture in Iowa, I think about the Farm Bureau members who spend time away from their farms and families to lobby at the Iowa Capitol or even in Washington, D.C. for legislation that would help farmers not only in Iowa, but across the nation. These member-leaders also volunteer their time in their local communities, educating others about what they do on their farms.
Farmers in the state are not only often leaders in the Farm Bureau; they are also leaders when it comes to implementing conservation practices on their farms. Soon, the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman will feature some of those leaders in the state who are working with other farmers in their watersheds to protect their land and water resources. You can also learn about farmers’ conservation efforts at conservationcountsiowa.com .
I think about the strong 4-H and FFA programs in the state, and the Benton Community FFA chapter, which I recently visited. The chapter is a mix of urban and rural students. So they’ve worked to build their program with activities that interest both its farm and non-farm students. And they’re succeeding. They’re earning awards because of the number of activities they’re involved in. In the process, they’re teaching other students in the community that the FFA is more than “the sows, cows and plows.” It’s about leadership, personal growth and development—all qualities that are important whether the students choose to pursue a career in agriculture or not.
I also think about consumers who have questions about agriculture, like my aunts and uncles—many of whom weren’t raised on farms. They have questions about their food, and wonder who they should ask. I hope I’ve talked to them enough so they have an understanding about the practices I see happening when I visit farms in the state. But I also hope they reach out to their state Farm Bureau organizations, and the farmers who make up their organizations in Ohio and Virginia. I hope they know their food is safe. I hope they have some understanding of the protocols that farmers meet on the farm to ensure that the food they put on their plate is safe. I hope I’ve conveyed to them that farmers understand their responsibilities. Farmers grow the food that not only feeds the world—but feeds their families and friends as well.
How are you celebrating National Ag Day? Do you celebrate year-round like me?
By Bethany Baratta. Bethany is Iowa Farm Bureau’s Commodities Writer.