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RBC I March 19 is the 40th anniversary of National Ag Day. It’s not a day that seems to get a lot of attention. Which is kind of surprising since so much of what makes this country great can be traced back to our agricultural roots. And because American agriculture plays such an critical economic and food security role in our state, our country and around the world. Not to mention that we all must have food to live. As the old saying goes, “if you ate today, thank a farmer.”
The world is changing rapidly and the challenges facing our nation’s farmers and ranchers are daunting. It is estimated that we will have to increase food production by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed a global population of 9.3 billion. What’s more, agriculture will play a role in meeting the growing demand for energy, which is expected to increase by more than 40 percent by 2035. These are challenging times for farmers and ranchers as they face the uncertainty of climate change and the constraints of diminishing water resources. But they continue to rise to the challenge every single day in order to bring us the most abundant, affordable and safest food supply in the world.
These days, most of us living in Colorado’s cities and towns don’t spend much time thinking about who grows our food or where it comes from. The closest interaction most of us have with a farmer or rancher is when we visit our local farmers’ market or we stop by a “U-pick” orchard or pumpkin patch. There are apocryphal stories of kids who think that spaghetti grows in sticks from the ground or that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. I choose to think that these stories are just urban myths but I also think that many of us haven’t made that important connection that nearly everything we eat depends on having adequate soil, water, and sunshine. And the nurturing skills of a farmer or rancher who understands how to coax a seed to life, whether it’s a field a wheat or a flock of lambs, while preserving and enhancing the resources that sustain that life.
So, take some time today to think about those families in your communities who are working from dusk to dawn to make sure we can count on a healthy, abundant, safe and affordable food supply. To those tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers in Colorado who are helping the agriculture sector lead the way to recovery from our last recession. To those family farmers across the nation who, in the vernacular of my 92-year-old dad, “gets ‘er done” every single day. Hat’s off to our farmers and ranchers on National Ag Day! We’d like to give you the day off. But you’ve got a world to feed.