National Ag Day focuses on climate
National Ag Day is taking place on March 22 this year and the theme is “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.” The Agriculture Council of America has been promoting National Ag Day annually since 1973.
This year’s theme comes at a time where farmers and ranchers are facing more scrutiny than ever before on the environmental impact and carbon footprint of agriculture.
Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto hopes this year’s National Ag Day theme illustrates “net benefits of agriculture in climate.”
He feels promoting agriculture nationally helps those who are removed from agriculture understand how ranchers care for the environment.
“There seems to be a prevailing opinion presenting agriculture as something bad – this needs to change,” Miyamoto adds.
He says this opinion is an unfortunate misunderstanding impacting farmers and ranchers.
“When we really look at the numbers, agriculture is one of the most beneficial industries when it comes to protecting the environment,” Miyamoto says.
Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton adds by saying, “Livestock has been important in upcycling a lot of things we can’t utilize for food. If we didn’t have livestock producing food from grazing, humans would let a lot of food go to waste.”
Miyamoto feels national recognition for agriculture is rare, so when there’s an opportunity at hand, it needs to be taken advantage of.
“Normally, these people wouldn’t read anything about agriculture, so it gives us an opportunity to get more publicity,” he says.
“National Ag Day gives professionals in the industry – including ranchers, farmers and ag policy advocates – an opportunity to get the message out from the right source,” Miyamoto adds. “Ranchers, farmers and ag policy advocates are the right people to listen to when setting ag policy.”
National Ag Day
Miyamoto mentions agriculture is often taken for granted.
“Ag is a vital industry,” he says. “I hope this event will put the spotlight on the industry and help people not take ag for granted.”
Hamilton says, “A lot of folks in the U.S. don’t really realize where their food comes from. Anytime we can bring awareness to what ag does in this nation, it is a good thing.”
He hopes the national recognition will bring light to all of the benefits agriculture provides to the environment.
“There hasn’t been much recognition until recently on how producers are producing food and fiber with less of a carbon footprint, and I think it’s important for people to recognize,” says Hamilton.
He is also concerned with the misinformation about agriculture which is spread by “well-financed groups who don’t like livestock.”
“These groups are trying to use everything they can to paint livestock and agriculture in a bad light,” Hamilton adds.
He says oftentimes skewed information in the media misrepresenting agriculture.
“In the U.S., our animal agriculture has been very efficient. We are much more productive per pound of carbon than a lot of places in the world,” Hamilton notes. “I think this is important to keep pointing out to people, so they start recognizing there are groups out there using their own agenda to drive anti-agriculture ideas.”
Ag in Wyoming
Miyamoto reminds Wyoming producers of how lucky they are to live and work in a state where many people have a close connection to the land.
“Most people in Wyoming at least know someone in the ag industry,” he adds. “This is not always the case in other states across the country, so it gives Wyoming a head start.”
He acknowledges the familiarity Wyomingites have with agriculture and says this makes it easier for Wyoming farmers and ranchers to spread correct information throughout the state.
“Ag is part of the Wyoming culture,” says Miyamoto. “It’s part of our genetic code to be cowboy in nature.”
He also shares Wyoming ranchers and farmers are environmental stewardship leaders, saying, “We’ve been doing a lot of these conservational practices for decades in Wyoming.”
Hamilton continues, “We have done a very good job in making sure the things we do lead to sustainable production of ag products for well over a century.”
“Our grazing in Wyoming is a closer mimic to the way the natural situation was 200 years ago than anything else going on in the U.S. right now,” notes Hamilton.
Agriculture is facing hardships throughout the U.S., and Hamilton mentions a major concern for Wyoming producers is the regulation of Bureau of Land Management lands and Forest Service lands, especially the proposals relating to the 30×30 Plan.
“We want to make sure this and future administrations understand we are protecting the environment every day in what we do,” he adds.
Hamilton is also concerned about proposals for U.S. agriculture at large.
“We at the Farm Bureau are naturally concerned about the proposals to eliminate the previous administration’s Clean Water Act regulations on water in the U.S,” he says. “I think this could potentially impact a lot of our folks.”
Miyamoto notes uncertainty as a major concern for Wyoming producers.
“There are so many different variables and inputs in agriculture, so it’s hard for producers to predict what will happen,” he says.
Miyamoto also mentions farmers and ranchers are dealing with supply chain issues.
“Fertilizer, pesticides and ag equipment is hard to find right now,” he says. “It’s hard to get done what we need to get done.”
Miyamoto says drought is an issue Wyoming producers continue to face.
“I hope we get a cool, wet spring because we have a lot of ground to make up,” he says.
Kaitlyn Root is an editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.