Growing up in northern Indiana, agriculture was driven largely by the corn and soybean markets, a common sight across the Midwest, where farms are routinely measured by the thousands of acres. That perspective, however, shifted when I was in my mid-20s and moved to Virginia. There, I got a taste (literally and figuratively) of the diversity the agricultural sector had to offer.
All of a sudden, I found myself driving past peanut and strawberry farms, dairies, hog farms, and herds of cattle on rolling pastures. I was even surrounded by more non-edible products than ever before, such as cotton and Christmas trees, as well as the horse barns and hay fields that are increasingly common the farther I went to the western part of the state.
The view I had of agriculture became much more well-rounded, and it made my understanding of the industry -- and my ability to write about it -- all the better. Seeing large and small farms alike as being vital to our nation’s food production gave credence to the idea that agriculture is an industry rooted in a broad skill base and possessing near limitless possibilities. It also sewed a unifying thread in my mind as I was able to see first-hand how so many people successfully and sustainably harness our land for the good of so many.
That’s really what Ag Day is about -- as an industry we’re not disparate people operating in a bubble but rather we are an industry with the power to speak with a singular voice. We should do everything we can, every day, to celebrate our farmers and rancher. We can move forward with purpose and passion on a path that reflects the good that so many of them do.