Slater High School graduate Kaeleigh Summers meets recently with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II.
Celebrating National Agriculture Day Tuesday, March 19, and National Agriculture Week (March 17-23) is both an honor and an opportunity. From the food on our tables to the clothes on our backs and the medicines we put into our bodies, agriculture is critical to each and every one of us.
Sharing that message so all can better understand the importance of agriculture and the rural/urban connection, is one of the topics I had the privilege of discussing recently with Kaleigh Summers.
She is a native of Slater, a junior at Mizzou, and a representative of the Agricultural Future of America organization. Kaleigh visited my office in DC while attending a conference of AFA, 4-H, and FFA members from across the country.
She tells me her passion is helping spread the message of what farmers, ranchers, and others in the agriculture community do. We discussed ways to highlight the food connection between all communities, from rural neighborhoods to urban and suburban ones.
That kind of understanding can begin with some facts about what is happening right here at home.
--There are more than 106,000 farms in Missouri that cover almost 29 million acres.
--Missouri consists of mainly small farms averaging about 271 acres.
--Agriculture in Missouri is incredibly diverse including everything from corn, soybeans, and other field crops, to livestock, hay, fruits, aquaculture, and forestry.
--Missouri ranks 2nd in the nation in soybean production with more than 4.6 million acres planted in 2011.
--Missouri is 4th in the nation for turkey production.
Farmers, ranchers, and producers have always been, and continue to be, creative, innovative, and resourceful. They help keep our food safe, abundant in supply, and cost effective. I have a deep appreciation for their hard and dedicated work across the country, and more specifically, in Missouri's Fifth District.
National Ag Day gives us a time to reflect on the security and strength they bring to our country. Indeed, I believe it is important for all of us to know the story and history of agriculture in our state.
But it is also important to teach our children about it. So the next generation, filled with promising young people like Kaleigh, will continue spreading the word of what those in the agriculture community really do.