Celebrating National Ag Day

Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

As I write this, it’s Tuesday. Tomorrow, when you read this in the Post-Searchlight, it’ll be Wednesday. Thursday, March 14, is National Ag Day. Hug someone who is affected by agriculture. In other words, everybody hug everybody! This year’s theme is “Agriculture: Food for Life.”

Without food, there would be no life. There was a short 40 year period for one group of people, those Hebrews led by Moses, for whom food (manna) fell from the sky. That might sound farfetched these days, but I’m sure there are plenty of Americans who might feel that food simply appears in our grocery stores.

Not true. Everything in those aisles, on those shelves, and in those cases began as a seed planted or an animal born on a farm. Farms are run by people and statistics tell us that one person, one farmer, produces enough food for 165 people.

When I was a young boy working on our family farm in Mitchell County, Georgia, one farmer fed 25 people. In 2012, there were 3.2 million farmers and ranchers in the United States and I’m sure that number has shrunk as we celebrate the agricultural influence in our nation this year.

When thought about, in a county like ours, most businesses are affected by our agricultural industries. I’m not thinking just about our food, but also the other products we sell in our stores or fix in our businesses. It could be said, “As agriculture goes, so does all of our lives.”

I will admit that all of us have our challenges in making a living, no matter what way you make that living. At the same time, think about no corn, no peanuts, no cotton, no produce, no cattle, hogs, chickens, or whatever we might find being produced on our local farms.

Or no trucks being sold or fixed. No tractors, cotton pickers, peanut combines, cattle trailers sold. No fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, or farm wages being circulated. No loans being made.

Would there be a Bainbridge, a Cairo, a Donalsonville, or name any other city in South Georgia? Maybe, but what would we be eating? Well, I won’t beat a dead horse. (There’s another farm animal!)

The fact is we all benefit from a strong agricultural industry and to celebrate that industry and all its connections is a good thing.

One of my greatest blessings in life was to have been born into a family that made its living by farming. As I mentioned earlier, 165 people are fed by one farmer these days. In 1960, when I was in my prime as an eleven year old farm boy, I could not have imagined the changes coming in farming.

Agriculture was different back then. There were smaller tractors and equipment. I can remember breaking land with two bottom plows. Now, a tractor can pull ten bottom plows.

Chemicals control weeds now. Back then, weeds were controlled by a complicated machine called a hoe and, if the hoe didn’t work, well, we bent our backs and pulled the weeds by hand.

Pickup trucks, even the fancy ones, might have cost $2500. Today, a set of tires for a pickup might cost close to that and a mansion could have been built for what a truck costs these days.

Hardly anyone farmed a thousand acres back in 1960. Nowadays, it’s hard to make a living by farming twice that much. Gone are the small family farms that raised three kids on 150 acres.

Be that as it may, it’s still a worthy day when celebrating those who bring us the food we eat. Take a look around the supermarket. Chances are, everything in it can be traced back to agriculture. Thanks, farmers and all who are affected by agriculture.