Celebrating agriculture in Kansas

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Agriculture has long been a part of our nation’s history. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the Native Americans taught the first settlers from Europe how to grow corn to survive.

In order to celebrate our state’s legacy of agriculture, the Kansas Department of Agriculture has dedicated the month of March to increasing awareness of this industry.

Logan Britton, senior in agricultural economics and agricultural communications and journalism, said he believes that Agriculture Month and its mission are important.

“The purpose of having an agriculture month is to inform people about the scope and importance of the agriculture industry, as well as celebrate our purpose in feeding, clothing and fueling the world,” Britton said.

While Kansas helps support the nation by growing food and fuel, agriculture also supports Kansas. According to the KDA, agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas, valuing over $53 billion and accounting for 37 percent of the state’s total economy.

Olivia Orth, sophomore in food science and industry, said she believes that agriculture in America can be taken for granted.

“People don’t realize how lucky we are to have a safe food supply,” Orth said. “The amount of choices we get with food – it’s incredible.”

All of these safe options are possible by the ever-evolving technology of the agriculture industry. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, the USDA invested more than $70 million into food safety research, education and extension projects that will help build a modern public health system that meets the evolving needs of the farm-to-fork system.

Emily Beneda, junior in food science and industry, said she believes that consumers need to know how their food goes from farm to fork and about the technology that helps it get there.

“Just like our iPhones are constantly updating and evolving, so is the technology in agriculture,” Beneda said. “Educating the public about how technology and agriculture work together to produce safe, abundant and affordable food is another important aspect to Ag Month.”

People such as Britton are passionate about agriculture and what it can do to help others.

“I think this celebration is great because agriculture is truly a humbling industry,” Britton said. “We produce food, fiber and fuel for the purpose of serving others, not making a profit.”

The Department of Agriculture attempts to raise awareness all year round, and has held events such as the Neighbor to Neighbor statewide food drive to help celebrate Kansas Agriculture Month.

Kansas Agriculture Day will be celebrated next Wednesday with a lecture by Jim Richardson, K-State alum and photographer for National Geographic, entitled “Feeding a Hungry Planet.” The lecture, revolving around agriculture photojournalism, will take place in K-State’s Union Little Theatre at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

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