National Ag Day celebrated with a Presidential proclamation and more

Like many events over the last 12 months, National Ag Week is being celebrated differently March 21 to 27. While in-person functions are not being held in Washington, D.C., in 2021, President Joe Biden kicked off the week with a proclamation.

On National Agriculture Day, we recognize the unique and irreplaceable value that farmers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers, and other agricultural stewards have contributed to our Nation's past and present. America's agriculture sector safeguards our Nation's lands through sustainable management; ensures the health and safety of animals, plants, and people; provides a safe and abundant food supply; and facilitates opportunities for prosperity and economic development in rural America.

Over the last year, workers and other leaders across the agriculture sector have stepped up to ensure a stable food supply in the face of incredible challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmworkers, who have always been vital to our food system, continued to grow, harvest, and package food, often at great personal risk. Local farmers helped to meet their communities' needs by selling food directly to consumers. Small meat processors increased their capacity as demand for their services skyrocketed. Restaurants found creative ways to bring food to members of their communities. Grocers and grocery workers also navigated new models, such as curbside pickup and online sales.

These collective efforts helped get food to the millions of adults and children in America experiencing nutrition insecurity. Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; school meals; and others focused on eliminating nutrition insecurity play an integral role in making sure that every family has enough food on the table.

As we overcome the pandemic and build back better, we will advance an agriculture sector that works for everyone. When I took office, I made a commitment alongside Vice President Kamala Harris to put racial equity at the forefront of our Administration's priorities. For generations, Black, Indigenous, and other farmers of color have contributed to sustaining this Nation. They fed their communities, gave the country new food products, and nourished communities with rich food traditions. Yet for generations they have faced the harmful effects of systemic racism. On this National Agriculture Day, I remain determined to address racial inequity and create an equitable space for all to participate in the great American enterprise of agriculture.

I also made a commitment to tackle the climate crisis. Farmers, ranchers, and foresters play a critical role in combating climate change. From sequestering carbon in the soil to producing renewable energy on farms, we will continue to innovate and create new revenue streams for farmers and ranchers while building a resilient agriculture sector.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 23, 2021, as National Agriculture Day. I call upon all Americans to join me in recognizing and reaffirming our commitment to and appreciation for our country's farmers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers, and those who work in the agriculture sector across the Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

Other National Ag Day Celebrations

Although attendees gathered around their computer screens rather than the National Press Club as has been tradition, AgriPulse held the first day of their Ag & Food Policy Summit Monday. In part due to the virtual format, the event will span three days this week. Speakers include USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Democrat and Republican members of congress, and leaders of agricultural organizations and businesses.

Jaxon Rauber of High Point, North Carolina, was named the ag day essay contest winner for his composition titled, “American Agriculture: Food Brings Everyone to the Table.” Codi LaBorde and Aubrey Surage, both of Colorado were honored as merit winners. Keerthi Nalabotu of Pleasanton, California, won the video essay contest.

Iowa

In the Hawkeye State, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced the recipients of the 2021 Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Awards to begin the week. The Iowa Food Bank Association and Iowa State University Meats Laboratory were honored for their work to help livestock farmers in the state overcome supply chain disruptions and feed Iowans during the pandemic. Both organizations played key roles in the Pass the Pork, Beef Up Iowa, and Turkey to Table initiatives over the last year.

“Our partners at the ISU Meats Lab and Iowa Food Bank Association embody the spirit of the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award. When times got tough, these groups found creative solutions to help livestock producers and food-insecure Iowans who were going through a very difficult time,” said Secretary Naig. “I am pleased to be able to acknowledge and thank them for their hard work and contributions to the Feeding Iowans food security programs.”

Iowa State Meat Lab accepts Naig's award
Photo credit: Iowa Department of Agriculture

Nebraska

Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts issued his own proclamation of National Agriculture Week during a press briefing at the state capitol in Lincoln on Monday. Rickets will tour agricultural operations across the state with representatives from the state’s department of agriculture on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Over the past 12 months, Nebraska’s family farmers and ranchers have once again shown the world how their grit, strength, and generosity can carry us through tough times,” said Ricketts, Monday. “Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, they made sure American families had access to the food they needed to feed their families. National Agriculture Week is a great opportunity to thank and celebrate the ag producers whose hard work helps to grow Nebraska. We look forward to taking this message on the road this week to communities around the state.”

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