Guest Opinion by Bruce Nelson, State Executive Director, Montana FSA
For America’s farmers and ranchers, tending to the earth is not a weekend hobby or a once a year celebration. It is a tradition, a way of life and for many, a calling that spans generations. On Earth Day, let’s thank our farmers and ranchers in communities across Montana for the stewardship of our resources.
Working on the farm that has been in my family for a century and for the USDA Farm Service Agency as the Montana State Executive Director has strengthened my appreciation for everyone involved in the agriculture industry. These are the good people who practice an every-day, lifetime commitment to protecting our natural resources.
Since the first Earth Day, 41 years ago, Americans from every walk of life have joined forces to encourage proactive stewardship of our natural resources. But before Earth Day was conceived, our country’s farmers and ranchers not only “talked the talk,” they also “walked the walk,” when it came to conservation — constantly seeking and adopting management practices to reduce soil erosion, improve water quantity and quality, reduce air pollutants and improve habitat and related wildlife populations.
As a society, we’ve made significant advances in medicine, transportation, communication and in food production. We’ve used biotechnology to increase soil and plant productivity in ways unknowable just a few decades ago — important factors in feeding our planet’s ever-growing population. Every day we learn improved methods to protect the land, water and air that has been gifted to us and for which each of us is responsible during our short time on this Earth.
So on this special day as we pause to reflect on the beauty and wonder of our planet’s resources, let’s also renew our pledge to protect these resources for future children and grandchildren, not just on Earth Day, but 365 days of the year.
And let’s join with those who farm and ranch and give thanks for the bounty of food, fiber, flowers and fuel that our planet’s resources provide. Like us, America’s farmers and ranchers depend on the earth’s productivity to feed their own families and to help feed the entire world.
They appreciate and respect the fragile nature of our natural resources and know it is important to safeguard the environment today, tomorrow and always. On Earth Day 2011, FSA salutes the American farmer and rancher.