In a proclamation issued Monday declaring March 23 National Ag Day, President Joe Biden called upon all Americans to join him in recognizing and reaffirming our commitment to and appreciation for our country's farmers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers, and those who work in the agriculture sector across the nation.
“America's agriculture sector safeguards our Nation's lands through sustainable management; ensures the health and safety of animals, plants, and people; provides a safe and abundant food supply; and facilitates opportunities for prosperity and economic development in rural America,” Biden states.
He notes that over the last year, workers and other leaders across the agriculture sector have stepped up to ensure a stable food supply in the face of incredible challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Farmworkers, who have always been vital to our food system, continued to grow, harvest and package food, often at great personal risk,” Biden says. “Local farmers helped to meet their communities' needs by selling food directly to consumers. Small meat processors increased their capacity as demand for their services skyrocketed. Restaurants found creative ways to bring food to members of their communities. Grocers and grocery workers also navigated new models, such as curbside pickup and online sales.”
EPA Administrator Michael Regan also released in a statement how this past year "mangified the agriculture community’s unwavering resilience, sacrifice and indispensable contributions to American life. A strong and prosperous agricultural sector is essential to a strong and prosperous economy."
Regan says he looks "forward to working with our agricultural community on ways to achieve sustainable agriculture while creating healthy, clean and safe environments for all Americans."
Biden went on to say, “As we overcome the pandemic and build back better, we will advance an agriculture sector that works for everyone.”
He discussed his commitment to put racial equity at the forefront of the Administration’s priorities. “On this National Agriculture Day, I remain determined to address racial inequity and create an equitable space for all to participate in the great American enterprise of agriculture,” Biden says.
The first installment of that commitment comes from the $5 billion allocated under the latest COVID relief package he signed into law which offers $4 billion in debt relief and another $1 billion to address systemic racism at USDA.
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Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also issued a National Ag Day message, stating we are a food secure nation because of the work of farmers, ranchers, producers and those who work in labor in our farm fields.
Vilsack notes, “Our farmers are poised to lead the way to a net zero emission future to better protect our planet and improve our soil health and water quality.”
In Biden’s proclamation he says farmers, ranchers and foresters play a critical role in combating climate change. “From sequestering carbon in the soil to producing renewable energy on farms, we will continue to innovate and create new revenue streams for farmers and ranchers while building a resilient agriculture sector,” Biden says.
“Our farmers reflect the great diversity of our country, race and gender. As well as size of operation, production methods and the products they produce and raise,” Vilsack concludes. “They also share common cause, and their pride in being a farmer, rancher and producer.”