By Matt Reese
This 50th anniversary of National Ag Day, organized by the Agriculture Council of America, celebrates the theme “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.”
“On this day we celebrate American agriculture and our farm and ranch families who take great pride in growing a safe, sustainable food supply. We also recognize and celebrate their role in producing biofuels for transportation, fiber for clothing and other textiles, building materials and so much more,” said Isabella Chism, a row crop farmer in Indiana who serves on the board of the Agriculture Council of America, which conducts the National Agriculture Day Program each March. “With so much of our life depending on modern agriculture, it’s appropriate to set aside at least one day a year to recognize and celebrate our safe and abundant food supply.”
I got to spend part of my first day of spring/March21/National Ag Day with Josh Berry, a fellow Fairfield County resident and farmer.
“We grow corn, soybeans and we also contract finish hogs. We have a feeder to finish site and also a wean to finish site,” Berry said. “Our biggest threats to the hog industry are on the national level with African swine fever. We’re still fighting and trying to get funding to keep it out. A lot of that goes to border security at our airports and just trying to do anything and everything to continue to keep the virus away from us. We’re one of the few countries left in the in the world that that hasn’t had it yet, so we’re pretty proud of that and hope to continue that.”
More locally, with ever-increasing land used competition from solar, housing and the behemoth Intel project to the north, Berry is worried about the future of agriculture in his community.
“It’s definitely a challenge. We’re trying to find that right balance to keep farmland intact within our county and as our commissioners anticipate the growth of Intel and the growth of residential and commercial development in Fairfield County, we’ve got a lot coming at us,” Berry said. “Farmland has the biggest target on its back for all of those developments to take place and when you add solar in the mix, everywhere we turn farmland is constantly being gobbled up. Through advocating and working with our local government officials and state officials, we are struggling and trying to find that balance of preserving and keeping farmland while being able to prepare for growth and development.”
As far as the best way to celebrate National Ag Day, Berry suggests delicious, Ohio-grown pork.
“You can’t go wrong with the properly cooked pork whether that’s a chop or a tenderloin is definitely one of my favorites,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with bacon either — I think bacon goes with just about anything. It’s even in ice cream nowadays.”
Whether taking the time to share your farm story to a neighbor (or your neighborhood farm reporter), inviting someone on a farm tour or whipping up your favorite farm fresh recipe, I hope you took a moment to celebrate the very basis of our society on National Ag Day and thank the farmers who produce so much.