Obviously, I’m a bit behind in my posting of it, but in case you haven’t heard today is National Ag Day. I write that a bit in jest since my social media newsfeeds are nothing but Ag Day posts and well wishes.
This year’s theme was 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed. As the sun’s rays stretched across our fields on this 84th day of the year, I was thinking less about seven billion mouths and more about the two that begged for a “different breakfast” before school this morning. They settled for a homemade version of an egg mcmuffin.
My Farmer left as sunlight struck ground, off for another day of work in the farm shop, preparing planters, sprayers and tractors for what we hope to be a sooner than later trip to the field. He, and so many other men and women went to work today caretaking, growing, sustaining, conserving, improving, expanding, fixing, reading, researching, talking, listening, reporting, driving, raking, planting and maybe even harvesting. They went to work because inside our personal fields and fence rows, day to day on the farm is more about one sunrise and the family whose livelihood depends on that farm.
We don’t talk a lot about the business of farming. The fact that this farm is our family’s storefront and it must be profitable in order for us to pay the bills, purchase groceries, and support community events and school functions. Profitability somehow equates to less than ideal intentions. However, a farmer who plants organic vegetables and sells at a farmers’ market is as interested in a profit as the farmer who has chosen genetically modified seeds to plant his corn crop. Profitability and making a living – a sustainable-pay-the-bills living – from a farm doesn’t make the venture any less idealistic just realistic.
The suggestion that farmers can feed the world is idealistic, grandiose and meant to illustrate the efficiencies and progression made in the agriculture community. However, so much of farm/food discussion focuses on solving the global issue of feeding a hungry planet with a garden. And while I am the first to tout the benefits of people having a literal hand in the dirt in order to get back to the roots of their food, it is unrealistic to think that 7 billion mouths can be fed in that fashion.
Last night I met a young woman who symbolizes for me the future of agriculture. Kenzie Kaiser served this last year as the Stephenson County Beef Association Ambassador and in her remarks at last night’s dinner, she talked about her hopes for a future in industrial engineering. “I would love to take my degree and use it to positively impact the agriculture industry through implementing technology that will have a greater effect on both the efficiency with in the industry and increasing sustainability within the environment.”
Wow! She gets it. As a senior in high school, with a life of possibilities in front of her, she gets it. She understands that “to be a part of something bigger than herself” (her words, not mine) she’s going to build things, invent them, create technology that will give a garden, a field, a farm the capacity and the farmer the tools to feed more than his or her family . . . the tools to feed a world for 365 sunrises and beyond.