McLean Mail

Fast Facts and National Agriculture Day

March has officially begun and we can look ahead to the exciting growing season to come. Another exciting thing that we can look forward to in March is National Agriculture Day! National Agriculture Day will be celebrated on March 22, 2022, according to the Agriculture Council of America. Communities and classrooms across America celebrate agriculture on the designated day. 2022 is the 49th anniversary of National Ag Day. This year’s theme for the day is “Growing a Climate for Tomorrow”. 

On March 22nd, the Agriculture Council of America (ACA) is hosting a virtual Ag Day event along with events held in Washington, D.C. ACA will bring college students to the capital to virtually deliver the message of Ag Day to Capitol Hill. On both Monday, March 21st and Tuesday, March 22nd, there will be an exhibit on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Metro that showcases modern agriculture. According to the ACA, “At this hands-on display of modern equipment and technology, you will learn how the latest ag equipment, crop inputs, data, and technology are working together to drive agriculture’s tradition of producing more with less.” On March 21st, in Washington, D.C., there will also be an Ag & Food Policy Summit presented by Agri-Pulse and a Celebration of Agriculture Reception. On March 22nd, there will be a Declaration Event in D.C. and the Virtual Ag Day Celebration from 10 to 11 a.m. central time. You can register for the virtual celebration by visiting www.agday.org/2022events, then finding the Ag Day Virtual Celebration information in the middle of the page, then clicking “Here” where it says “Register Here”. Clicking that link will send you to the zoom meeting sign up page for the event. 

The Agriculture Council of America first started the National Ag Day celebration in 1973. The ACA is a non-profit organization that primarily focuses on the National Ag Day Program. The day of celebration always occurs in March, with the specific date of celebration set by the ACA every year. The ACA describes their purpose as, “...an organization uniquely composed of leaders in agriculture and food and fiber communities dedicated to increasing public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society”.

With the celebration of National Ag Day coming up, it is important to know agriculture that can be found here in Illinois! According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans, corn, and swine. The climate we have and varied soil types allow many other agricultural commodities to be grown and raised too. Farmland here in Illinois covers 27 million acres, which is about 75 percent of the state’s total land area. Most of the farm acreage is devoted to corn and soybeans. About 3% of farms have swine, 22% of farms have beef cattle, and about 1% have dairy cows. Some specialty crops grown here in Illinois include: alfalfa, canola, nursery products, and more. The average size of an Illinois farm is 375 acres. 

Illinois agriculture is able to be successful for many reasons. One reason is because of the type of soil we have here. “About 89% of the state’s cropland is considered prime farmland, ranking the state third nationally in total prime farmland acreage,” according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Another reason for agricultural success is the competitive advantage offered by the transportation available in Illinois. Illinois has many interstate and state highway options, along with the largest rail gateway in Chicago, over 1,000 airports, and 1,118 miles of navigable waterways. The key to our agricultural success, however, is the farmers in our state. There are 75,087 farm operators across the state (which is a shrinking number). Although the number of operators are shrinking, production continues to rise and our farmers continue to work hard to produce for a growing population. With National Ag Day approaching, it is important that we take time to celebrate agriculture for all that is provided for us and celebrate agricultural workers for all of the hard work that they do.