About 2 million Americans, or about 1.3% of the U.S. population, are farmers. The agricultural and food sectors related to the farm account for 10%, or 19 million, of American jobs. Of those ag-related jobs, 2.6 million are directly on the farm. The numbers showcase what we in agriculture and rural already know: We're a minority voice representing the sector that grows a majority of the food supply for our country and world.
I believe we need a greater share of voice to represent modern agriculture for the future. While I've been an active agriculture advocate for decades, I feel this as a mantra again heading into a new year.
I choose a word or focus for the year. It might sound unnecessary or fluffy, but for me, it works. And if you’ve never tried it, I think all in agriculture should and could adopt a phrase this year: stand for agriculture. It's broad. We won't agree on all the specifics, but there's room for all of us.
Let's stand together for and with agriculture. Countless examples come to mind and yours may differ from mine.
I believe agriculture needs to speak up on what sustainability is and how it is achieved on your farm or ranch. One definition of sustainability doesn't fit all farms and ranches. We need to define sustainability ourselves rather than allow it to be defined by those far from ag, those not listening to farmers. For my city friends, sustainability is not organic farming only. All types of ag practices, including those modern practices that use fewer inputs to produce more, are needed in agriculture and needed for food demands and supplies to be met into the future.
Lastly in my top-of-mind list is the Waters of the United States. WOTUS is not a new policy to agriculture but once again the public comment period is open until Feb. 7, 2022. Sharing your feedback, your words and your voice on policy represents agriculture and gives more voices to public comment on policy impacting all of agriculture.
More people representing agriculture through numerous channels bring results.
In agriculture and rural areas, we need to demonstrate our beliefs and values through active participation, locally, regionally and nationally.
Is a statewide commodity board in need of some to run for a seat in your area? Put in your name for consideration. Does your local township, school board, county commission or legislative district need more involvement from constituents? In our rural areas, the answer is almost always YES. Actively participate in what you talk about in a coffee shop or at a kitchen table and get involved in 2022.
Going into a new year, I feel a sense of urgency and a renewed passion for agriculture advocacy. More than ever before, agriculture’s voice needs a stronger share of voice, not just to ag audiences and circles, but extending to the mainstream population. Agweek’s purpose of delivering you original agriculture reporting and news stories from your region is a part of standing for something that matters to me.
We believe in agriculture and bringing forth the stories that may go unreported if it weren’t for our news team bringing them to you. Agweek’s news stories are distributed throughout the Forum Communications Company network, the region’s largest, family-owned media company with millions of views and users of content.
You do not need to be in the 1.3% of active farmers or the 10% working ag or food sector jobs to be a voice for agriculture. Let’s all keep working for the future of agriculture together.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at email@example.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.