On March 27 we’ll wrap up National Ag Week, a week observed annually to recognize the impact of agriculture in our daily American lives.
Those who work and live in agriculture have a fundamental understanding of the importance of such an industry, so one week out of 52 set aside to celebrate it seems undervalued.
One year ago, the global pandemic was beginning to affect nearly every aspect of our lives.
We couldn’t attend Easter services in church because they were shut down.
Parents were finding creative ways to work at home and become school teachers simultaneously.
Hand sanitizer, toilet paper and disposable masks were on the short list of things everyone was seeking.
Also on that list, last year, this year, today and forever: Food.
“Food Brings Everyone to the Table” is the 2021 National Ag Week theme and it couldn’t be fitting as we reflect on the last year and our lives today.
The past year has offered us a whole new perspective on food and our daily living.
We’ve seen empty grocery store shelves and refrigerated cases sit bare for extended periods of time in our local markets. This was unprecedented as the United States is among the top for having the safest, most abundant food supply in the world thanks to our efficient and resourceful farmers and ranchers.
We’ve come to understand the importance of staying ahead of provisions and being prepared for such an event. The wait time on new refrigerators and chest freezers is months out due to lack of production and high demand. Local meat processing facilities are booking dates a year in advance due to the demand of such a service.
Restaurants shut down and we’ve learned how to cook at home again. With that came the realization that home economics courses, now cut from most curriculums, were something that provided great value no matter the school district demographics.
Sales of meal and fast-food delivery services, home gardening supplies and plants and grills soared in 2020 due to the need for, and enjoyment of, food.
Events were cancelled, travel banned, schools shut down, offices closed, and families were allowed the opportunity to sit around the table for a meal again.
2020 wasn’t all bad.
Food does bring everyone to the table. It is a basic need for survival that our population has worked to modify, complicate and alternate. But the work of those in agriculture – who understand the simple but immense value of warm soil, growing degree days, rain, crop nutrition and soil fertility – remains steadfast and unwavering.
Our job is to provide the American Farmer with the resources and knowledge to continue to produce a safe and abundant food supply so everyone – regardless of age, gender, social class or location – can come to the table.
In 2020 we supported food banks and pantries so students and families could still eat when schools shut down. One example is our support of Bulldogs Helping Bulldogs, which is a program in Wayne County which worked to provide daily meals to students once school cafeterias were no longer serving kids.
We also supported the Salvation Army of Clinton County Food Pantry last summer to ensure families were supported with food on the table when jobs were at great risk due to businesses and production lines closing. Those are just two of several ways Co-Alliance supports hunger-ending initiatives.
Because Food Brings Everyone to the Table, even if that table looks a little different these days.
Most farmers worked through National Ag Week because the 2021 planting season is rapidly approaching. We have beans to move and planters to calibrate and soil fertility maps to go over and in-season plans to finalize. We’re wrapping up tiling projects and investing in fuels and lubricants to keep machines rolling when the spring sun shines.
This week, and for the other 51, we’ll celebrate agriculture when we put our cotton tablecloth on the Easter table, enjoy corn tortillas on taco Tuesday or fire up the grill for some well-marbled steaks.
Because food – and agriculture – brings everyone to the table.