In an age where you can order groceries through an app and have them delivered to your door or buy new clothes online without ever leaving the house, it is easy to forget where those things come from.
The fully stocked shelves at the grocery store and the fibers used to make those new clothes are the byproducts of American agriculture and the hard work of countless men and women here in Indiana and throughout the country.
Today, on National Agriculture Day, we celebrate the farmers who grow the crops and raise the animals in order to feed and clothe the world while also looking to the future in a changing industry.
The Agriculture Council of America estimates that each American farmer feeds 166 people worldwide, a number that is growing each year as the population increases. As demand increases and factors such as a changing climate impact production, now is a key time for farmers to start looking ahead and planning for the future. That is why this year’s Ag Day theme is “Food brings everyone to the table.” To make sure the world’s growing population is fed and clothed, everyone will have to work together.
For farmers, that means finding new ways to increase production and efficiency while conserving limited natural resources such as soil and water. We at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are committed to helping farmers protect their soil and waterways as they adapt to a changing world.
The NRCS has been helping people help the land for more than 80 years and has worked with hundreds of farmers in Indiana to implement conservation practices on their land. Promoting good soil health, which is foundational to growing more and better food and helps to protects the nation’s waterways by reducing runoff from agriculture fields into streams and rivers, can be accomplished in just a few easy steps: till the soil as little as possible; maximize plant diversity with a mixture of cover crops; keep living plants in the soil as long as possible; and keep the soil’s surface covered with residue year-round.
At the NRCS, we are committed to working with landowners and producers to make good, informed decisions about natural resource concerns on their land. NRCS works directly with the landowner to develop a conservation plan that identifies practices that can positively impact their operation and help protect our nation’s natural resources. The plan includes tools and resources customized specifically for each producer based on his or her goals and resource needs. It helps provide guidance and direction for continued maintenance of conservation systems and can be utilized when applying for one of NRCS’ financial assistance programs.
As we celebrate Ag Day today, let us all take a few moments to think about our natural resources (soil, water, air, plants, animals, energy and humans) and how we can help our farmers make sure they are available for generations to come.