By David Dixon via Evansville Courier Press – Henderson, KY
There was a big celebration last week, and I missed it.
I must have been too busy loading up at the grocery store or enjoying a good lunch from a local restaurant or mixing up some surprise dish at home. (When I do the cooking I’m usually the one surprised.)
Last week was National Agriculture Week. The start of spring is a good time to remember the contributions that our local farmers and Kentucky’s farmers make to our overall economy as well as to our supper tables.
Here are some eye-opening statistics as provided by the Kentucky Farm Bureau:
- In Kentucky, agriculture accounts for more than $42 billion in annual economic activity and more than 270,000 jobs.
- Nationally, agriculture generates 20 percent of the gross domestic product and accounts for 24 million jobs.
- About 90 percent of U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals.
And here are some more stats as reported recently by Business Editor Chuck Stinnett:
- Henderson County produces $85 million a year in crops and livestock.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently said the number of Kentucky farms actually increased last year by an estimated 200, to 85,700.
- That number gives Kentucky the fifth-greatest number of farms in the nation, behind only Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma.
- Henderson County was tops in the state last year in soybean production followed by Daviess County and then Union County.
- Union County was the leader in corn production with Christian County second and Henderson County third.
The importance of farming, of course, did not go unnoticed around here. The Henderson Chamber of Commerce held its annual Agriculture Appreciation Breakfast earlier this month.
As part of that celebration, Jimmy Henning, the director of the University of Kentucky Extension Service and assistant dean of the UK College of Agriculture, pointed out that crops and livestock aren’t the only crucial products of Kentucky farms.
“One of the outputs of agriculture is people — young people,” he told the chamber audience. Local leaders of FFA and 4-H can attest to that and play a big part in raising up a fine stand of young people year after year.
Which reminds me, National Teach Ag Day, which celebrates agricultural education, is coming up this week on Thursday, March 24.
All this is good to keep in mind, especially this time of year.
Someday soon it will warm up and stay warm. Someday it will quit raining long enough for the fields to dry and be worked.
When it does, our local farmers will be taking to the roads to get their equipment into place to begin another planting season.
As I’ve pointed out every spring in recent years, we “civilians” who enjoy country life beside our farming neighbors need to be patient as those big rigs are moving safely and slowly along our roadways. And our city cousins who venture out to enjoy the scenery should be patient as well.
While you’re waiting just think:
Much of the strength of the United States throughout its history can be laid — literally — at the feet of its farmers and their abundant food production. How would you like to be depending on the farmers of the Middle East or Africa for your daily bread?