You may not have seen too many farmers doing their happy dance Tuesday, despite the fact it was National Agriculture Day.
Celebrations were a bit muted due to the COVID-19 restrictions. However, farmers being patriotic, socially distancing themselves in machine sheds, were finishing installing the new high-tech attachments on their planters.
But they do feel lucky that agriculture was one of the professions that could conduct somewhat normal activities in an effort to produce and market food. And in Decatur, there is a lot of agribusiness underway that does not exist in many other communities.
Along with health care, energy, financial services and communications, agriculture is one of those essential, critical elements of infrastructure where workers remained on the job. Just because there was no bread or meat available at your favorite grocery store does not mean the U.S. food machine let you down. It was the result of consumers falsely believing there would be a shortage.
Agriculture Secretary Perdue issued a brief statement Tuesday, saying, “Our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers in America are feeding and clothing the world. Now more than ever it’s important that the American people not forget that. Our farmers are resilient, and during these uncertain times they are still working, day in and day out, to produce what’s needed for our growing population.
“Today, on National Ag Day, I challenge the American public to keep our farmers, ranchers and producers on their minds — for all their work to provide us a safe, healthy and abundant food supply. We owe them a debt of gratitude.”
A similar tribute came from Eli Mittermeyer, of the Adams County community of Loraine, who was the national winner among high school students entering the Ag Day Essay Contest. He wrote, “Our farmers embrace constantly evolving challenges and minimize environmental impacts while maximizing food production.
“They must embrace new technology while respecting old traditions and their business requires not only a significant financial investment, it requires an investment of blood, sweat and tears while battling frustrating working conditions, weather hardships, economic challenges, and more. Farmers do all this to provide us with bountiful and affordable food, so when we sit down to eat, the farmer who produced the food joins us, but that farmer joins more than just our family, as each U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually.”
Secretary Perdue needs to hire Eli as his speech writer.
Farmers need a regular pat on the back, because currently their only sources of joy are a bit out of kilter. Spring has sprung and machine shed doors remained closed because of cold, wet soils. And commodity markets, from grains to livestock, are not allowing most farmers to capture their cost of production.
But thanks to generations of farmers in the family before them, hardy men and women of rural America soon will be heading to the fields to do it all over again. It’s the life they love, and they know no other.
Happy Agriculture Day my friends!
Stu Ellis is an observer of the Central Illinois agriculture scene. In addition to his weekly column, you can view his “From The Farm” and “Harvest Heritage” reports on WCIA 3 News.
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