Every March, sometime around the first day of spring, this nation sets aside a day to recognize the contributions of American farmers and ranchers. National Ag Day is a celebration of the agricultural community and an effort to show our fellow citizens the essential role that agriculture plays in their everyday lives, as well as provide them with a quality understanding of how food and fiber products are produced.
Though this call to action for farm and ranch appreciation is worthy, the day is rarely acknowledged by those outside rural communities. Even in this amazingly bountiful San Joaquin Valley, there is a disconnect for many people from the activities that take place out on the farm and the food and fiber that reaches grocery shelves, restaurant menus and fashion lines around the world.
That changed for many, however, in the past two weeks. Coronavirus, and the angst it has brought with it, emptied numerous grocery shelves from coast to coast. Someday, we may look back and reminisce about the nation’s great toilet paper buying spree of 2020, but the understandable desire to stock up on necessities, including food, is human nature.
Reassurance is difficult during this uncertain time, but one bit of certainty I can guarantee is that American farmers and ranchers, as well as our transportation and logistics colleagues, will refill those shelves quickly.
With extraordinarily few exceptions, this country has not seen empty grocery shelves and rationing since World War II. The behind-the-scenes efforts by people in agriculture are not noticed by most people, whose frequent visits to produce-stocked supermarkets and restaurants have come to be an expectation, without ever thinking twice about who grew or raised it.