If, like most of us, you eat on a regular basis, I'd ask that you take a minute or two to consider where that food comes from. Unless you're growing it yourself, all that fuel for your body came from a farm - not to mention any wool, cotton, linen and leather you might be wearing.
For the most part, American farmers like myself are a pretty quiet minority - less than 2% of the entire population - but during National Agriculture Week (March 16-22 this year), we like to stand up and remind the other 98% of our society that what we do is important.
Thanks to our increasing efficiency, you and I and all Americans spend a smaller percentage of our income on food here (about 10% on average) than in any other society on earth. People in other parts of the world spend anywhere from a quarter to a half of their income just to keep the cupboards full and food on the table.
If the notion of going hungry isn't compelling enough, consider the increasingly diverse uses our humble farm commodities are being put toward. Researchers are continually looking for - and finding - new ways of squeezing valuable products like renewable fuels, medicine and building materials from our farm fields, orchards, forests and livestock.
Then there's the economy. Hard times have taken a toll on every segment of Michigan's economy, but it's worth pointing out that agriculture here is expanding and is now the state's second-largest industry, generating more than $60 billion annually.
It's a vital component of local economy as well. Lapeer County is home to more than 1187 farms averaging 189 acres per farm. Lapeer County farms generate products valued at approximately $5.1 million every year. In fact we're a top producer of soybeans and corn, and rank 17th among Michigan counties in crop production.
The bottom line is that agriculture in Lapeer County and across the state and nation is an industry worth protecting and worth respecting.
Oh and please pass the potatoes!
Patricia Brauer, Lapeer County Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Chair
March 19, 2008