Happy National Ag Day and Virginia Agriculture Week/Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week

Today Secretary Haymore read to 3rd graders at St. Bridget School for Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week

Today, March 25, is National Ag Day, a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture.
As the world population soars, there is even greater demand for the food, fiber and renewable resources produced in the United States.

The National Ag Day program believes that every American should:
  • understand how food, fiber and renewable resource products are produced.
  • value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries.

In the spirit of National Ag Day, the National FFA Organization developed a list of agriculture facts that you may not know. Check them out:

1. Today, every farmer feeds 144 people — up from 25 in the 1960s
Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States. [source]

2. The number of farms operated by women have doubled in the U.S. since 1978
Across the country, nearly 300,000 women serve as principal operators on 62.7 million acres of farm and ranchland, accounting for $12.9 billion in farm products in 2012. Countless more women live, work and raise families in rural America. [source]

3. By 2050, we’ll have to produce more food to feed the world than ever before.
Taking into account a growing population and shifting diets, the world will need to produce 69 percent more food calories in 2050 than we did in 2006.  World Food Prize President Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn calls “the single greatest challenge in human history: whether we can sustainably feed the 9 billion people who will be on our planet in the year 2050.” [source]

4. Agriculture employs more the 22 million people
Agribusiness Management, Agricultural and Natural Resources Communications, Building Construction Management, Agriscience, Resource Development and Management, Parks, Recreations, and Tourism Resources, Packaging, Horticulture, Forestry, Food Science, and Fisheries/Wildlife are all categories of agricultural careers. [source]

5. FFA is showing impressive membership growth 
With global needs today to fight hunger and prepare for the expected population explosion, the agriculture industry needs educated, skilled and passionate people dedicated to sustainability.

Students are answering that call, evidenced by an explosion in FFA membership to nearly 580,000 members throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the past year. [Source]

6. Need a job? Several agriculture careers are in demand
Shortfalls of qualified graduates to work as plant geneticists and plant breeders, climate change analysts, and food safety and security specialists are anticipated during 2010–15, according to a Purdue University study. [source]

7. 10 percent of all Americans are involved in farming
One in 10 Americans play a role in the nation’s food and fiber supply, showing the extreme importance of agricultural awareness and understanding. Agriculture is too important a topic to be taught only to the small percentage of students considering careers in agriculture and pursuing vocational agricultural studies. [source]

8. FFA members nationwide are fighting hunger with community-based projects and by donating more than one million meals

In 2014, more than 450,000 meals have been provided by FFA members participating in the FFA Hunger Heroes Challenge while 122 FFA chapters nationwide are fighting local hunger with FFA: Food For All grant projects. [source]

Virginia is also celebrating Virginia Agriculture Week/Virginia Agriculture Literacy Week March 23-29. Throughout that week, VDACS employees and local Farm Bureau members will read to children in schools from Stephens City to Wytheville, Harrisonburg to Hanover. Everyone will read the same book, What’s in the Garden?, to pre-schoolers through second graders. The book asks and solves a riddle about a variety of agricultural products, gives simple recipes using those products and includes instructional sections on the parts of a plant and basic cooking terms.

Click here for information on Ag Week and here for more information on Ag Literacy Week. Teachers, parents and students will find a variety of resources and activities here. Schools that are interested in hosting a reader should contact Elaine Lidholm.

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