Every day Earth Day to Iowa's Farmers

Friday, April 29, 2011

On April 22, millions of people around the world celebrated the 41st anniversary of Earth Day.

The idea behind the day began back in the "hippie culture" of the 1960's, but was not officially observed until 1970. Earth Day is certainly a deserving holiday that recharges and encourages us to honor the planet and all living things that inhabit it.

As an Iowan, it's easy to think that in the land of plenty, everyone has enough food to lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, that's not the case. More than 50 million Americans don't have access to the food they need.

The situation doesn't seem to be improving, either. There are more than 310 million people in the U.S. today and we rely on less than two percent of those people to feed us. Fortunately, the agriculture industry has an impressive story to share. We are using less land, water and energy to produce crops and livestock than ever before.

Today, one American farmer produces enough food for 155 people. Only a few decades ago, that number was only 26 people. While farmers are increasing their efficiency and decreasing their environmental footprint, they are also focusing on improving the land they will pass on to future generations.

Experts estimate global food production will need to more than double by 2050 to feed a growing world population. Many of those experts agree that U.S. livestock production practices are an environmentally sustainable solution for producing crops and livestock and should be considered a model for the rest of the world.

Thanks to smart practices, raising livestock in the U.S. today accounts for less than 3 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Farmers work hard to provide healthy and nutritious products to people around the world while efficiently using their resources and providing the finest care possible for their livestock. Their history with the land and their animals dates back hundreds of years, long before it became "hip" to celebrate Earth Day.

They follow strict rules and regulations to protect our environment by safeguarding rivers and streams, managing the land and soil and keeping our air clean.

We hope as you prepared to celebrate Earth Day last Friday, that you took a minute to consider how fortunate we are to have access to safe, wholesome and affordable food. Can you think of any other example where the work of so few benefits so many?

While millions celebrated Earth Day on April 22, our dedicated crop and livestock farmers celebrate it every day. For Iowa's farmers, environmental responsibility isn't just a job, it's a way of life.