It's national Ag Week all across America. It's an event that has been celebrated for decades. Unfortunately, most of the people who do the celebrating are farm people, or local ag businessmen and bankers they invite for either a free or very cheap breakfast. Some counties now hold ag day events, many of them today, charge what the farmer likely received from the items used in the breakfast. Typically, it's less than $1 per person.
There's nothing wrong with proclamations and get-togethers where farmers will meet with other farmers, and a few businessmen, maybe even an elected representative or tow, and have a good social gathering. Perhaps they will even hear a speaker who talks about some facet of agriculture. Sometimes, it may be a humorous speaker that gets everyone's morning off to a good start.
Even the Indiana office of the Farm Service Agency got into the act, issuing a release about national Ag Day, The actual day set aside for celebration is March 20. Don Hunton, Acting executive director of Indiana FSA, recently proclaimed in a news release that farmers, associations, groups, even government agencies would gather together in various ways in various places to celebrate the occasion.
The goal was and is to tell other people not involved in day-to-day agriculture how important agriculture is. Hunton reports that one farmer feeds 130 people today, either in the U.S. or abroad. In 1960, he notes, that number was only 15. That's a five-fold increase in less than 50 years.
All of this is something to be proud of. But is being proud enough? Are the people who really need to hear the message- your neighbors and friends, maybe even your own relatives, getting the message. Do they think any more of farmers when they hear of National ag day than they did before.?
The irony this year during National Ag Week is that a national TV network, shown on cable and satellite, HBO, chose March 16 , during National Ag Week, to air a scathing, undercover report on the brutal reality of American hog farms, or so they say. Apparently, someone went undercover to work on a hog farm, and filmed what they consider atrocious acts. Don't worry if you missed the debut showing. It supposedly will run many more times on HBPO over the next few weeks.
It's pretty difficult to counter such coverage, albeit it no doubt tainted, one-sided and blown out-of-proportion, with free breakfasts for people you already know.
Perhaps it's time to 'phone a friend', to borrow a phrase form the popular show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Unless the anti-livestock groups are met with substantive opposition, animal agriculture may need more than a lifeline to survive into the next century, as ridiculous as that might sound.
Tell your friend the true story about agriculture. Invite him or her and their family to a meal of farm-produced food, including meat, and tell them the truth about how lucky they are to set down to a safe, quality meal. It only happens as often as it does one place in the world- here in the U.S.A.