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Agriculture: More Important Than Ever

March 24 is National Ag Day, a time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture. Usually, Ag Day is a festive occasion, with the nation’s producers, agricultural associations, Extension services, 4-H and FFA youth gathering to share their experiences, bond as a community and eat nutritious food grown by American farmers.

Things are a little different this year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, National Ag Day events in Washington D.C. and other locations around the country have been cancelled. Here at UF/IFAS Extension, we’ve cancelled or postponed all in-person gatherings until at least April 30 and have restricted travel.

But National Ag Day is still on for March 24, and now is an especially important time to talk about American agriculture. Like a lot of events, the festivities have moved online. We will be celebrating our nation’s agriculture throughout the week of March 22-28 by sharing agriculture-related stories on social media, using #NationalAgWeek. The crowds may not be there in person, but our voices will still ring loud and clear.

This year’s theme, “Food Brings Everyone to the Table,” is more appropriate than ever.  With shutdowns, school closings, and social distancing, more families are spending time at home, and that means more time gathered around the dinner table.

Covid-19 is forcing us to slow down and look at what really matters. The empty shelves we’ve been finding at the local supermarket bear evidence that when the routines of everyday life are disrupted, the first thing we stop taking for granted (after toilet paper) is food.

Our food supply is in no immediate danger due to Covid-19. The FDA reports that there is no current evidence that the novel coronavirus is transmitted through food or food products. International trade and supply chains are being affected, but farmers are working as hard as ever, producing food, fuel and fiber for the nation and the world.

Each of us in UF/IFAS Extension and throughout the agricultural community has a world-saving role to play. We apply scientific research to make our agriculture safe, abundant and sustainable. We support policies that prevent shortages, regulate food safety and ensure that agriculture continues to thrive in the global market. We inspire more youth to look towards a future in agriculture the way we look to careers in medicine, technology, or media.

While Covid-19 is disrupting our lives and institutions, it’s important to celebrate National Ag Day, to step back and remind ourselves that throughout this crisis and long after its passing, agriculture will be the bond that brings everyone to the table.

 

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