National Ag Day highlights importance of Mississippi farmers

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It’s ‘National Ag Day,’ and in Mississippi, its importance can’t be overstated. 

Agriculture is far and away Mississippi’s number one industry valued at $7.35 billion a year, according to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, and the industry employs approximately 17.4% of the state’s workforce either directly or indirectly.

With 34,700 farms in the state covering 10.4 million acres, Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson explained that one farmer feeds 125 people on average. 

“Everything we need, our farmers are out there providing, and we’ve never stopped,” he said. “We couldn’t stop. It’s an annual thing and the next crop is going in the ground right now.”

In the White House proclamation, President Joe Biden looked back on the role our nation’s farmers played over the past year in keeping America fed.

“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,” the proclamation reads. 

The 48th annual Ag Day carries the theme ‘Food Brings Everyone to the Table.’ The American Agri-Women detailed how the theme perfectly represents the importance of farming in America and its prominence in everyday life. 

“The table itself is a representation of the timber industry, just as much as a place to gather with friends and family. The clothes you are wearing when you sit down at that table may very well include the work of a cotton farmer.

A start to the day may include a combination of eggs, bacon, syrup, and pancakes which brings a livestock producer, dairy and grain farmer, and sugar beet grower directly to your table. Lunch breaks fuel us with peanut butter sandwiches, French fries, and even carrot sticks so that you come in contact with peanut and potato farmers along with vegetable growers. We can’t forget the glass of wine, orange juice, or café latte tie you to either a grape grower, fruit and coffee bean producer, or an almond and dairy farmer. Pollination is required for many foods, which in turn requires a beekeeper,” the organization writes. 

In Mississippi, poultry/eggs are the top commodity with an estimated value of $2.16 billion followed by soybeans ($1.21 billion) and forestry ($1.13 billion).

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