The celebration of National Ag Day began on Thursday, March 15, with a luncheon on “The Convergence of Food and Fuel” at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Over 250 guests, including representatives from agricultural producers, commodity organizations, and agribusiness representatives, government dignitaries, FFA, 4-H and other youth groups and friends of agriculture joined in the celebration.
Orion Samuelson, WGN Radio/RFD-TV, was the master of ceremony for the event. U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, was the first speaker at the luncheon. Congressman Peterson has been recognized for his tireless efforts on behalf of the agricultural industry by receiving awards such as the “Friend of Farm Bureau” award from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the “Golden Triangle Award” from the National Farmers Union.
Following Congressman Peterson’s speech, attendees feasted on lunch courtesy of the National Pork Producers Council. After lunch, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns took the stage to address luncheon attendees. Johanns remarked that the future of American agriculture looks promising because of Farm Bill proposals that are focused on a market-based system. Johanns said that although some of the proposals in the Farm Bill may not be easy for some of those in agriculture, he is optimistic.
According to Johanns, farm cash receipts are expected to reach $259 billion in 2007, which is up $20 billion from 2005, and up $16 billion from 2006. Demand for food and fuel is high and agricultural exports have soared to $78 billion, a $9.3 billion increase in just one year says Johanns. He says that 95 percent of the world’s population lives beyond the U.S. border and that the middle-class outside the U.S. will double by 2020 which means these consumers will eat more as their incomes rise.
Following remarks by Secretary Johanns, Krista Knigge, Case IH, presented LaTasha Cote, 12th grader from Couch High School in Mrytle, MO with a $1,000 prize for her winning Ag Day Essay on “American Agriculture in 2025.” The contest was sponsored by Case IH with support from The Council for Agricultural Science & Technology, High Plains Journal, the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, the National Agri-Marketing Association, Country Living Association and McCormick Company.
Following the National Ag Day Luncheon, National FFA President, Beau Williamson hosted a rally at the USDA’s Whitten Building patio. The rally showcased the future of renewable energy and American agriculture and featured remarks by Secretary Mike Johanns as well as Greg Webb, ADM Public Affairs, and Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association.