As I sit typing this week’s agriculture column from my makeshift office at home, I first send you all healthy thoughts and prayers to you and your families.
In this time of crisis, I want to get back to something more positive and remind you all that, as the song goes : “The sun will come out tomorrow, Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun!”
I think Annie says it all.
On another shining moment this past week we should have been celebrating National Ag Day and Ag Week, which officially ends today. The theme for National Ag Day 2020 is “Food Brings Everyone to the Table.”
I encourage all of you to do the following in honor of our farmers and their families:
• Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
• Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
• Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.
America’s agriculture families and communities lead the world in producing food, feed, fuel, and fiber. Today and every day we should pay tribute to the men and women who expand opportunities for prosperity, economic development, and food security by cultivating the land across our country.
Our economy has been strong because of agriculture at the forefront. Some statistics I see say that agriculture is valued at more than $141 billion.
Our production and our country’s agriculture exports are critical to our nation’s job market, with every $1 billion in exports supporting approximately 8,400 American jobs. Agriculture also accounts for approximately 5.5 percent of our gross domestic product.
I think it is also important to know and realize that agriculture is still made up of many family farms. The fact of the matter is that small family farms still account for 90 percent of all U.S. farms. The average farmers today produce enough to feed 166 people annually in the U.S. and abroad.
Women make up 36 percent of the total number of U.S. farm operators; 56 percent of all farms have at least one female decision-maker.
Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.
In 1980, farmers and ranchers received 31 cents.
So, tonight when you sit down to eat supper with your family, be thankful for our farmers and wish them all another successful year producing the many tastes of agriculture we can all enjoy.
Another item I wanted to highlight this week is the fact Ohio State University Extension is here to help with a new virtual education program for the agricultural community.
Some ‘March Madness’
“Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness: A Tournament of Education” will include 64 educational events broken into daily brackets. Each day, a virtual educational session will be held at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. The educational tournament is free of charge and will likely continue until mid-May.
This is a direct response to providing a variety of useful and timely sessions for farmers and families across the state during Gov. DeWine’s stay-at-home order according to Jacqueline Wilkins, interim director of OSU Extension.
She goes on to say that while the “tournament” is being loosely tied to March Madness, it’s not a competition, and people can join in at any time for as many or as few sessions as they desire.
The tournament opened this past Wednesday with the eFields 2019 Results webinar. Learn how the eFields program used modern technologies to help Ohio farmers learn new practices and techniques to improve farm efficiency and profitability. You can go back and listen to this program at the following: go.osu.edu/eFieldsWebinar.
Also on March 25, Sam Custer, interim assistant director of OSU Extension’s agriculture and natural resources program, discussed how educators are working remotely to continue serving Ohioans during these uncharted waters of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.
Tournament “brackets” will change daily. Topics will cover a variety of subjects and be presented in a variety of virtual platforms. When possible, question-and-answer opportunities will be included.
To find complete details on the tournament’s educational opportunities and other event and webinar links, visit go.osu.edu/agmadness. If you miss a program or want to back later to listen many of the program will be recorded and you can go back and listen a t a later time.
One way to find previous programs is to visit the go.osu.edu/agmadness and click on the FULL BRACKET tab.
Agriculture and Natural Resources Madness is just one example of how OSU Extension is employing its online resources during this challenging time to remain engaged with Ohioans. Extension has also updated its Ag Crisis website to include a toolbox of resources related to COVID-19. Those can be reached at go.osu.edu/AgCrisis.
Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.