“Essential for life and without it, the organism would cease to function…” describes the trace mineral, salt, found in every cell of our bodies. Farmers, like salt, are vital to our core existence. Everything we eat or drink depends on the commitment and ingenuity of today’s farmers. They are the “salt of the earth.”
As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s stop and think: where did all the food and beverages that we have eaten today originate? Some were grown locally–or at least in the U.S.–but others, like coffee and tea, traveled across the globe. We have food on our tables due to the dedication of farmers near and far who are committed to preserving the earth and the farm. As a dairy farmer’s daughter and a sixth-generation farm owner, I have observed the commonalities of all farmers, regardless of location or type of farming:
- Entrepreneurial Spirit – Whether it’s a new type of farmer who grows salad greens vertically or a generation of dairy or pork producers, the longevity of success lies in taking risks and adjusting business strategies to meet ever-changing consumer demands. Implementation of new animal care strategies and the development of new products are just a few ways dairy farmers are mitigating risk for long term success. To remain successful, farmers must be willing to adapt rapidly.
- Innovation – Regardless of the romantic picture we may “think” farming should be, it’s the introduction of new production technologies that have maintained the viability of our agricultural community. The investment in technology has allowed farmers to produce more food with less land, water, and labor, creating a more sustainable food system. Dairy farmers are partnering with food companies, retailers and restaurants to recycle food scraps to feed their cows and nourish the land, giving new purpose to food that would have been wasted.
- Knowledge of Nature – Mother Nature is the primary driver of crop production in any region. Farmers must understand the parameters of any crop or animal production with what the environment (soil, climate, rain) will grow if they are to be economically viable. It is with this knowledge that dairy farmers can tailor their cows’ nutritional needs with the available crops in various regions of the world.
In this time of uncertainty, there is one constant for which we should be grateful…our farmers. Regardless of natural disasters, tariffs or the overall decline of farm profitably, it is their commitment and passion that are essential to our existence. They are the “salt of the earth.” Thank a farmer!
Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RDN, LD, FADA, FAND is a recognized nutrition and sustainability thought leader and a sixth-generation Kentucky farm owner. As founder and principal, The AgriNutrition Edge, LLC, she provides strategic counsel to food, health and agriculture organizations to better position themselves in restoring trust. She is a published author and creator of the blog series, “Meet Me At The Table”, www.agrinutritionedge.com.