> The Zipline

Celebrating National Ag Day

Zippy Duvall


photo credit: AFBF Photo/Morgan Walker

National Ag Day is quickly approaching, and I can think of no better way to kick off the spring season than by celebrating the hard work and commitment of America’s farm and ranch families. We are proud to grow the safe and sustainable food, fiber and renewable fuel we all rely on. In the 50 years of National Ag Day, American agriculture has seen tremendous growth in innovation and sustainability. I am proud to be part of that story.

As a third-generation farmer, I am committed to restoring the land passed on to me by my father. I don’t farm the way my grandfather did, and I don’t expect my grandchildren will farm the way I do, if they return to the farm. I have access to new tools and practices that allow me to turn the soil over less and conserve more water. Thanks to years of careful research and testing, the next decade of innovation—whether that be new technology or better seeds—is being developed today. I am confident that the next generation will have an even greater sustainability story to tell.

In the 50 years of National Ag Day, American agriculture has seen tremendous growth in innovation and sustainability.

Sustainability isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. We need tools that work for both the environmental and economic sustainability of our farms if we’re going to continue to meet the demands of a growing population. We are farming on less land than ever before all while producing more. Just 30 years ago, it would have taken 100 million more acres to produce the same amount of food, feed and fuel that farmers are growing today. This is only possible because of new technologies like precision ag equipment, conservation practices that renew the soil and products like pesticides and herbicides. All of these tools work together to help farmers be more precise in how we use water, target pests and diseases before they wipe out a crop, and keep nutrients in the soil and not running off into nearby water. We also have voluntarily placed millions of acres into conservation and forestry programs through the farm bill.

Farmers are not at the finish line when it comes to sustainability, we’re at the forefront. We want to keep doing better because we know first-hand how important our natural resources are. What’s more, we can see immediately the impact that weather and climate have on our crops and land because we have our boots in the soil tending our crops, trees and animals every day. As I like to remind folks, sustainability isn’t a buzzword to us. It’s just what we do. That’s part of the reason it took us so long to share our sustainability stories. It doesn’t feel like news when you’ve been doing something for decades. But the public simply isn’t familiar with what modern farming looks like or the climate-smart practices that have become second nature to us.

The good news is that the American public trusts farmers and ranchers—9 out of 10 adults trust us. And we don’t take that trust lightly either. On National Ag Day, and on the remaining 364 days of the year, America’s farmers and ranchers are proud to rise and answer the call to keep our nation’s pantries full and grow the products that we rely on. You’d be hard pressed to find a product that didn’t begin on a farm—from the paper on your desk to the compostable straw in your lemonade. I am proud of the work our farm and ranch families put in every day, and I am honored to serve and represent them as we grow the products that sustain life and make our lives and world better.