This week we salute all those involved in Agriculture during what is recognized as National Ag Week.  Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution.

This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.  Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a local High School Career Day and speak to students about the many career options available in the field of Agriculture.  My challenge to the youth was: as our land area to grow food decreases with a growing population and increased urbanization, continue to feed the world population that will nearly double in the next 50 years.

By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture. Today each American farmer feeds more than 144 people, a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more - and doing it better.

As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.  In 2010, the U.S. increased trade exports by 21 percent, to $1.28 trillion—surpassing Germany and claiming its role as second-highest exporter in the world, next to China.  A major component of this triumph?  The massive increase in agricultural exports, which made up about nine percent of all goods shipped abroad, according to FarmPolicyFacts.org.

 Locally, agriculture continues to have a big impact on the area economy. Last year more than $170 million dollars of agricultural income was produced with an overall economic impact on the local economy of an estimated $419 million.  So this week, if you see a farmer or rancher, thank them for what they do, as they continue to provided the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.