The face(s) of agriculture

Tony Nye - OSU Extension

If you read the paper on a daily basis you will recall the recent column written by Pat Haley, Clinton County Commissioner, reflecting on his friend Ralph Doak. I too would like to reflect about Ralph if I may.

Beyond being a lifelong friend, I identify Ralph as a face of agriculture.

I knew Ralph through the swine industry well before I became the Clinton County Extension Agent almost 30 years ago. Going back even further, when I was quite young and Ralph in his younger days, my dad and grandfather sold Ralph a few Spot sows for his operation. So I have known Ralph through the Purebred Industry for a very long time.

As a fresh pup out of college coming to Clinton County, which was three hours south from home, it was Ralph (and others) who helped get me introduced to so many within the Agriculture community of Clinton County. He helped me feel welcomed to the area.

Through their kindness, Ralph and Becky Doak allowed me to house a few purebred sows at their farm. Since I did not have family or friends in the area starting out, having that direct connection to agriculture was very therapeutic for me. I love animals, I love raising purebred swine and they gave me a chance to stay involved in something I have passion for.

It was clear to me that Ralph knew the county inside and out and I could confide in him with questions about the county and the agricultural culture that exists here in Clinton County. I always enjoyed the many stories and discussions on the back of a pickup with a Pepsi or traveling with him to a swine event somewhere.

In a big way, Ralph contributed to my success as the Agriculture Extension Agent. He is also a large reason why our family purebred swine farm is successful today.

Over the years, his guidance, expertise and willingness to listen have been so valuable. Through his involvement in agriculture, especially the swine industry, Ralph touched the lives of so many farm families not just here is SW Ohio but all over the country.

Because of his personality, his love of agriculture, and his passion of the purebred swine industry, to me, Ralph will always be a spokesman and a face of agriculture. May he rest in peace.

Like Ralph, there are many we can recognize as faces of agriculture. Agriculture is so important to each of us on a daily basis. These faces become promoters and advocates of agriculture and help define why agriculture is so important to each of us.

Our farmers work every day to produce quality grain, livestock and various other farm products. They are passionate and proud to be involved in agriculture.

Farmers hold college degrees, never stop learning, receive extra training and certifications, and are always striving to achieve a balance in bountiful yield, natural resource conservation and the farm budget.

Whether you know a farmer that has five acres or 10,000 acres the end goal is still the same, they want to provide safe and healthy food not only for our local community but for the world.

This past Tuesday, March 21, was National Agriculture Day. Americans need to understand the value of agriculture in their daily lives.

Here are just some of the key reasons why it’s important to recognize — and celebrate — Ag Day each year:

• Increased knowledge of agriculture and nutrition allows individuals to make informed personal choices about diet and health.

• Informed citizens will be able to participate in establishing the policies that will support a competitive agricultural industry in this country and abroad.

• Employment opportunities exist across the board in agriculture. Career choices include: Farm production, agribusiness management and marketing, agricultural research and engineering, food science, processing and retailing, banking, education, landscape architecture, urban planning, energy and other fields.

• Beginning in kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade, all students should receive some systematic instruction about agriculture.

• 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.

• Agricultural literacy includes an understanding of agriculture’s history and current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans. This understanding includes some knowledge of food and fiber production, processing and domestic and international marketing.

There are many ways to be a face of agriculture. In reality you do not have to even be a farmer. Just be someone that understands why agriculture is so important in our daily lives and can explain the importance of agriculture to someone that does not understand.

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 29 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

Tony Nye

OSU Extension