Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Students Bring Ag Day to Capitol Hill

Over 100 students from NAMA, FFA, 4-H, AFA, the Consortium and other groups were chosen to share in the message of agriculture and its importance during Ag Day Celebration 2012. Students stayed at the National 4-H Visitors Center and visited Capitol Hill to meet directly with legislators and advisors from their home state.

Tuesday, March 6, kicked-off with a welcome for the students and a mix-and-mingle to get to know each other.

On Wednesday, March 7, students participated in training sessions with government relations liaisons, shared ideas and built advocacy plans. They also took a guided tour of Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, March 8, they shared morning coffee at the USDA with Krysta Harden, Chief of Staff for Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. They also attended the Mix-and-Mingle Luncheon at the Senate Building.

Ag Day Coffee Kicks-off National Ag Day

Photo by Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm, LLC
The Ag Day Coffee kicked off the 2012 Ag Day Celebration, March 8, in Washington, D.C. Over 200 people attended the morning coffee to hear Krysta Harden, Chief of Staff to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, at the USDA Whitten Building Patio.

Before joining the Obama Administration, she served as the CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts based in Washington, D.C. from 1993-2004. Ms. Harden was the Senior VP of Gordley Associates, an agriculture consulting firm, where she focused on conservation and renewable energy issues.

Krysta worked on Capitol Hill from 1981-1992. Her time on the Hill included serving as a professional staff member for the House Agriculture Committee and as chief of staff and press secretary to former Congressman Charles Hatcher (D-GA).

Krysta is from Camilla, Georgia, where her family still lives and farms and a graduate of the University of Georgia.
Photo by Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm, LLC

Mix-and-Mingle Luncheon

Approximately 300 people attended the Ag Day Mix-and-Mingle Luncheon at the Longworth House Office Building on March 8. Attendees listened to Congressman Collin Peterson speak on the importance of American agriculture along with Danielle and Chad Budy, one of the Outstanding Young Farmer honorees. Also speaking at the luncheon was Student NAMA member, Matrica Myer.

Chad Budy began farming in junior high school, planting 250 acres of rented land with wheat and grazing 100 head of cattle. He now raises wheat, alfalfa, canola, stocked cattle and cow/calf pairs on more than 6,300 acres near Alva, Oklahoma.  He graduated from Northwestern Oklahoma University with a degree in ag business.  He and his wife, Danielle, both come from five generations of farming and ranching.

The Outstanding Young Farmer program began in the 1940s.  The first Outstanding Young Farmer National Congress, held under the sponsorship of John Deere, in 1977, in Bismarck, ND.

From the registrations received each year, the top 25 candidates are reviewed by judges and from that group the top ten are chosen for an expense paid trip to the OYF Awards Congress each year.  These top 10 automatically become members of the OFA Fraternity.  From the top ten – 4 are chosen as National Outstanding Young Farmers.   In attendance at Ag Day festivities were the four national winners from the OYF Class of 2011. There are 1500 plus members in the OFA fraternity and several hundred of them return each year to attend the Congress and renew friendships from years passed.  The OFA Fraternity are incorporated and elect officers who serve 2 year terms.  The OFA is a very important part of the OYF Program and the majority of the membership remain successful and influential farmers.

John Deere has been the national sponsor of this program since 1977.  Honorees for the Outstanding Young Farmers were: Joseph and Dawn Geremia from Connecticut; Chad and Danielle Budy from Oklahoma; John and Stacy Melick from New Jersey; and Ryan and Michelle Keller from Wisconsin.

The luncheon also featured a speaker representing the students involved in the Ag day Hill visits. Matrica Myer is from Edgar, Nebraska where she grew up on a corn soybean, and cattle operation. She is now a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is studying agribusiness with an entrepreneurship minor. She is involved with the Nebraska Agriculture Youth Council, National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), Engler Agribusiness entrepreneurship club, and is the secretary of the Agricultural/Agribusiness Club. 

For more photos of all of the Ag Day Activities please visit All photos courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm, LLC.

A Celebration of Agriculture Dinner

Photo by Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm, LLC
Over 175 people attended the Celebration of Agriculture Dinner at the USDA Whitten Building Patio on March 8, 2012.

Attendees were welcomed to the dinner by Orion Samuelson, WGN Radio. The dinner began with a reception for all attendees followed by remarks from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. After his remarks, the Secretary mingled with the guests just before a pork dinner courtesy of the National Pork Producers Council and created by Mark Salter, Chef at the Robert Morris Inn.

Also in attendance and recognized at the dinner were the 2011 Outstanding Young Farmer honorees which included: Joseph and Dawn Geremia from Connecticut; Chad and Danielle Budy from Oklahoma; John and Stacy Melick from New Jersey; and Ryan and Michelle Keller from Wisconsin.

Photo by Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm, LLC
Honored at the dinner were the Ag Day Essay Contest video and written essay winners. The theme of this year's essay contest was "Feeding the Future, Filling the Gap." The video essay was written and produced by Diane Gress, a junior from Shreve, Ohio. Following the video essay, Miriam Martin, a junior from Bucklin, Missouri, read her essay.

The essay contest is sponsored by: CHS with support from The Council for Agricultural Science & Technology, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, the National Agri-Marketing Assn., McCormick Company, and Farm Progress.

2012 Ag Day Essay Video

2012 Ag Day Written Essay

"American Agriculture: Feeding the Future,
Filling the Gaps"
"Destiny is not a matter of chance.  It is a matter of choice.  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”  When William Jennings Bryan made this statement in his famous speech titled “America’s Mission” in 1899, he had no idea that the world’s population was projected to exceed nine billion by 2050.  However, he did realize that if America was going to succeed in future generations, we had to be prepared, proactive, and persevering.  The responsibility to sustain America and the potential to feed the world is within American agriculture.

The first step in feeding the future is being prepared.  This requires educating American consumers, constant innovation within biotechnology, and a clear vision for the future.  Opportunities range from teaching elementary students where their food comes from, to speaking with legislators about how regulations affect production agriculture’s livelihood.  Taking advantage of international markets and funding research to increase safety and efficiency is absolutely necessary.  More food will have to be produced in the next 50 years than the last 10,000 years combined, if we are going to accomplish our goal of feeding the world.

Secondly, we must be proactive when it comes to showing others that we care about the well being of our animals.  Being willing to share our story and listen to others’ concerns is very important.  When we are open minded and willing to cooperate, we discover solutions to problems instead of magnifying them.  I am a beef and pork producer that understands how transparent I need to be with my quality assurance programs.  People don’t care what you have to say until they know that you care.  Caring means staying informed about the safest handling techniques, giving tours of your operation to the public, and being involved in social media.  We must consider our environmental impact and be stewards of the land.

 In order to succeed we must persevere.  American agriculture cannot be focused on simply feeding ourselves; that would be selfish.  We are striving to feed the future, and that means thinking and educating globally.  When we work with scientifically advanced countries, it ensures consistency and predictability.  This requires perseverance to work with different cultures, values, and standards.

As William Jennings Bryan said, we are given a choice.  We have the option of stepping up to the challenge or shying away.  My plea is that America cares enough about the fact that someone dies every 2.43 seconds of starvation, to do something about it.  This will take the determination to prepare, courage to be proactive and conviction to persevere.  I believe American agriculture has the power to feed the future and fill the gaps.

For more photos of all of the Ag Day Activities please visit All photos courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm, LLC.

Ag Day Across America

In honor of National Ag Day, March 8, 2012, many people celebrated American Agriculture. Take a look at the activities, events and articles in celebration of Ag Day!

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2012 National Ag Day Essay Contest Winners

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Iowa digest

USFRA Hold Food Dialogues Prior to National Agriculture Day

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Agri-Pulse Holds Successful Reception

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Iowa celebrates leading the way on Ag Day | Ames Tribune

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Collins: Thank region's ag producers for benefits of their industry

SFP Celebrates Ag Day

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Nation's farmers, ranchers recognized

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Breakfast of Champions

Wayne County dairy youth recognized


Ohio agencies announce water quality measures | Ohio Ag Net

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The Durango Herald 03/14/2012 | Celebrating Ag Day on March 8