Appreciate agriculture this spring
When: March 20th
What:Look out the nearest window. I’ll bet you don’t see any farmland, but you probably see plenty of restaurants, maybe even a grocery store. When living in the metropolitan melee or the sprawling suburbs, it’s easy to take our food sources for granted. However, an astonishing 41 percent of the U.S.’ total land area is farmland, while agriculture is our country’s top export. On the first day of spring, celebrate National Agriculture Day and agriculture’s contributions to our lives.
Background: National Agriculture Day was first celebrated in 1973 and has been spearheaded by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) since 1979. It is held annually on March 20, which is the first day of spring and is the final day of National Ag Week, celebrated March 14-20. Food producers, agricultural associations, corporations, schools and other groups coordinate events to celebrate the day in their communities.
Story Pitch: Restaurants and grocery stores can highlight the agricultural process behind the food they provide, while community groups and schools can educate the public about the importance of agriculture in America. Employers can sponsor events like tours of local farms and provide their employees with information on how to support agriculture in their communities. Meanwhile, environmental groups can promote campaigns around the conservation of open spaces and animal habitats.
The Story Hook: The World Food Program estimates that 1 in 6 people do not get enough food to be healthy, despite the fact that the planet is producing more food than ever. The United States Department of Agriculture’s 2008 Household Food Security survey reported that 14.6 percent of American households could not provide sufficient food for all family members. Since then, this number may have swelled due to the recession and increased unemployment rates. Consider the following questions before making your pitch:
- What can be done to fight hunger in the U.S.? What kinds of programs are available that provide assistance to food-insecure households?
- How are local movements like community gardens and backyard chickens changing the face of agriculture in America’s cities?
- How do our farmlands impact wildlife?
- Due to new technologies, American farms have tripled in size over the last century. How else has technology changed agriculture?
- According to the Agriculture Council of America, approximately 50 percent of farmers are 55 years of age or older. How are some schools trying to engage students in a career in agriculture?
Tips: When making your pitch, provide the media outlet with the name of a nearby farmer who is willing to be profiled and can speak on the evolution of American agriculture.
Agricultural & Applied Economics Association
Agriculture Council of America
American Farm Bureau Federation
United States Department of Agriculture
–Researched, compiled & written by Marissa Maybee
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