This year’s National Ag Day marks 50 years of celebrating and recognizing the contributions of American agriculture in our everyday lives, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. Farmers and ranchers contribute to all things food, fuel, and fiber. In addition to providing these everyday essentials, farmers are tasked with protecting our planet from climate change. Preserving the land is something farmers and ranchers have been doing for decades. Farmers prioritize taking care of the land so that the land will take care of them, their families, and generations to come.
Farming for the Future
Did you know the agriculture industry only contributes around 10% of the overall greenhouse gas emissions? Of that 10%, the dairy industry only contributes 1.9%. That is far less than other industries in the US. Not only are their contributions minimal, but their practices play an active role in enhancing and absorbing CO2 in the atmosphere.
Regenerative farming techniques farmers are applying today to decrease CO2 include:
- Conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till
- Using crop rotation
- Grazing livestock rotationally
- Applying compost or crop residue to fields
- Planting cover crops
Whether they are turning grass into milk or waste into taste, dairy cows are sustainable in every aspect. Depending on herd size and pasture availability, some dairy cows have the luxury of grazing. Rotational grazing has many potential environmental and economic advantages. Other dairy farms rely on TMR (total mixed ration). Both are effective ways to ensure the cows are receiving a healthy and environmentally friendly diet. Dairy farmers utilize the byproducts of different industries or farms when working to create a nutritious feed mix. Cows are the ultimate up-cyclers, eating byproducts that humans cannot eat, such as citrus pulp, almond hulls, Brewer’s grain, and more. These products otherwise would have ended up in landfills.
In conclusion, agriculture is leading the way in growing a climate for tomorrow by implementing regenerative and sustainable farm practices. Without agriculture, our daily lives would be strongly and negatively impacted. Farmers and ranchers work hard 365 days a year to ensure we are fed well, and the place we call home is well taken care of today and for generations to come. Today and every day, we thank those in agriculture for their hard work and dedication. Happy National Ag Day!
Kayla Stooksbury is a nutrition educator and wife of a dairy farmer. Her knowledge about farming and nutrition allows her to educate others and bridge the farm-to-plate gap. She lives in Jefferson City, Tennessee, with her husband and two children.