Happy US Farmers Day! Every year October 12th is an opportunity for the United States to celebrate the farmers that work hard year-round to not only the American people, but also to the global population. US Farmers Day, previously known as Old Farmers Day, is celebrated on October 12th to align with the end of the growing and harvest season which is a tireless moment where farmers are working around the clock to ensure the crops are cut, collected, and prepared for consumption.
Across the US, there is an estimated two million operating farms, with 97% of these being family owned. These two million farms make up over 10% of job opportunities across the country and across the food system value chain. At the heart of our food systems, not only do farmers grow the products that we use to sustain ourselves, but they also produce biomass, promote soil health, protect, and restore biodiversity, and work to mitigate climate change. Most importantly for our taste buds, farmers grow a diverse number of crops and food products to allow for and promote diverse diets. The top agriculture products grown in the US is corn, with a region in the Midwest even being called “The Corn Belt.”
Beyond the boarders, agricultural exports from the US are the second largest in the world, after the European Union. Agricultural exports have been growing steadily over the last 25 years, reaching a peak in 2022, garnering $196 billion in revenue for the gross annual GDP.
Farmers are the backbone of America, food systems, and our global survival. They are hard working, diverse and versatile individuals who will take on the work, rain or shine and go back with a smile the next day. Paul Harvey said it best in his 1978 speech to the Future Farmers of America entitled “So God Made a Farmer.” In part it reads, “It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church; somebody who would bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does.”
So, while this is a national celebration, people across the globe should take a moment to visit a farmers’ market, visit a farm, or thank the farmers in their life today, where would we be without them!