Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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.