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Commentary: Agriculture: 365 sunrises and 7 billion mouths to feed

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
By Clara Knipp

In 1969, the United States accomplished a feat once thought impossible: sending a man to the moon. This accomplishment was not completed overnight; it was comprised of small steps that contributed to the overall success. In the end, one man represented the accomplishment for all of mankind. As Neil Armstrong illustrated in the quote, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," it is small steps that lead to the overall success of a challenge. Farmers face the challenge of feeding 7 billion people for 365 days. Although this task may seem daunting and near impossible, each individual involved in agriculture—whether they are a farmer, researcher or educator—contributes one small step in meeting the challenge of feeding the world.

Farmers have been the basis of a stable food supply since humans strived to withdraw their nomadic traditions. Now, for the human race to survive, production agriculture must strive for sustainability. Farmers need to continue their reduction of environmental outputs in order to conserve abiotic elements in the environment, such as soil and water, and ensure their use for future generations. If sustainable practices are not utilized, each following generation of farmers will have to feed exponentially more people with fewer resources.

Researchers are the key to developing efficient animal production practices and biotechnology that can increase yields and reduce the effects of risks like drought and water shortages. Technology developed by researchers can equip farmers with the most efficient production knowledge and assist them in maximizing production capabilities.

As the gap between urban and rural lifestyles widens, it is the responsibility of people involved in the agriculture industry to advocate about agriculture and all it encompasses. Since consumers are beginning to influence production practices, it is vital that consumers realize the connection between farm and food. If consumers understand the process of growing food and the regulations farmers face, they are given insight to how they affect agriculture through their voting rights. With this knowledge, consumers can make educated decisions about policies, and farmers can hope to avoid regulations that would be detrimental to their freedom to operate. It is the responsibility of everyone involved in the agriculture industry to employ the title of an educator.

Just like the mission to land on the moon was completed with small steps, agriculture must complete the challenge to feed the world day by day. Everyone involved in the agriculture industry has a role in feeding the world. When small steps by individuals involved in agriculture are combined, a giant leap is taken towards completing the mission of feeding 7 billion people for 365 days. With the cooperation of everyone, we can accomplish a feat once thought impossible.

(Clara Knipp of Tipton, Mo., a high-school student, submitted this winning essay to the Agriculture Council of America 2014 National Ag Day Essay Contest.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

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