To honor the tremendous work ethic, ingenuity, determination and perseverance that define generations of American farmers, ranchers and forestland owners, tomorrow will mark the 47th annual celebration of National Agriculture Day: our nation’s day to recognize those who deliver solutions from the land. Because of the efforts of these growers, the United States produces an abundant supply of food, feed, fiber and fuel for an ever-expanding population worldwide.
The day will also recognize the efforts from among our nation’s growers to innovate, adapt and implement practices that go beyond food security, but also boost energy, healthy ecosystems and livelihoods. Showcasing one set of examples, SfL recently released a white paper, “21st Century Renaissance: Solutions from the Land,” that promotes pathways that will enable U.S. agriculture and forestry production systems to scale up solutions to address global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The paper underscores the overarching vision of attaining the SDGs. These 17 objectives were set in 2015 by UN members and call for, among other outcomes, the elimination of hunger, the restoration of clean water resources, the development of clean energy and the mitigation of the impacts of a changing climate, all by 2030. SfL’s report sets out this vision with pathways to promote the resilience needed for our agricultural community to maintain abundance in the years to come.
National Agriculture Day gives the opportunity for producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others from across the United States to gather and celebrate the benefits provided by American agriculture. The day’s observations and events – policy discussions, speeches and salutations at events in Washington, D.C., and in states across the country – are part of a movement to support the ag sector’s transition into the much broader role underscored in the SfL white paper. In addition to their traditional benefits, livestock and forestry producers also give us clean, renewable energy; biodiversity that enhances habitats; stewardship of natural, sustainable resources; and in most cases, a line of defense in efforts to reduce global emissions that scientists say contribute to a changing climate.
The mission of event sponsors around the country is to make their neighbors aware of how food, feed, fiber and renewable resource products are produced. In the process, they highlight the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. Agriculture, food and related industries contributed $1.109 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, a 5.2-percent share. For every $1 of United States agricultural and food exports generated by a mere fraction of the nation’s population, another $1.27 in business activity is created. U.S. agriculture exports are valued at more than $100 billion, and every $1 billion in exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs.
National Ag Day also aims to make all Americans aware that the challenges of the day call upon the men and women who work our productive lands to also take on the roles of conservationist, agronomist, environmental engineer, logistician, transportation manager, manpower specialist, communicator, marketer and financial planner, among many others.
U.S. producers have understood for years that good conservation practices not only enhance soil, air and water quality, but offer strong economic benefits – a finding particularly true in the production of bioenergy feedstocks, an area where growers are using less land and less water to produce even greater quantities of biofuels.
In terms of renewable energy, U.S. farms and forest lands meet much of the nation’s power needs in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable – shown by the siting of virtually all of America’s no-carbon wind power facilities on rural land; the generation from U.S. forests of the biomass that offer low-emission alternatives to fossil-based power sources like coal or petroleum-based natural gas; and the capture and production of biogas resources from livestock operations that are used to displace fossil-based transportation and heating fuels.
As it does every year, National Ag Day underscores the part farmers and ranchers play not only in putting food and fiber on our store shelves, but also in developing and building the practices and management tools needed to sustainably meet society’s increasing demand for a healthy and diverse landscape. SfL commends these stewards for their tireless efforts to innovate and deliver a wide array of high-value solutions from the land.
Solutions from the Land (SfL) builds and facilitates state, national and global initiatives and alliances through which farmers, ranchers, foresters and collaborating partners showcase examples of innovation and proactively advocate for policies, partnerships, investments and research that will enable agricultural landscapes to deliver near-term, cost-effective, integrated solutions to global mega-challenges: food and energy security; sustainable economic
development; climate change and environmental improvement. For more on SfL, click here.