By Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President
When National Farmers Union was founded in 1902, most of the population of the United States had a direct connection to a farmer, if they were not involved in farming personally. While those of us presently involved in farming, ranching and other agricultural pursuits hold tight to the connection, the reality is that the average American is several generations removed from the source of their food supply. This fact creates a critical need for all of us to continue to spread the message of the importance of family farming to everyone in America and around the world.
The United Nations (UN) has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). National Farmers Union is proud to be leading the U.S. National Committee in support of the year. With family farming in the spotlight on an international stage, now is the time to capitalize on this opportunity and spread the word about the work family farmers are doing each and every day.
Family farming is so much more than cows and plows. Family farmers, ranchers and fishermen are working to provide food, feed, fiber and fuel for our country and the world. Through advancement of technology, conservation practices and other methodology, today’s family farmers are able to provide for more people while utilizing fewer resources. There are more than 313 million people living in the United States. Of that, less than one percent claim farming as an occupation, and about two percent actually live on farms. It is astonishing to think that only about 2.2 million farms in the United States provide all of those people with nourishment.
Family farmers are the original environmentalists. When it comes to our nation’s fuel supply, our family farmers, ranchers and rural residents are a practical source for leading the charge in producing biofuels, wind energy and other alternatives that continue to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and improve our national security. While working to provide both food and fuel, our farmers are strive to utilize practices that will conserve and improve the land while lessening the impact on the environment for the success of future generations of family farmers.
As National Farmers Union continues to celebrate family farming, we encourage you to get involved. Be on the lookout for future events and other activities where you can make an impact! Are you a member of your local Farmers Union? If you aren’t, join today! Becoming a member is the first step in bringing your voice to the table on many levels, opens the door to educational opportunities for you and your family, and continues to support the future of family farming in our country.