|Hello from St. Paul,
March 22 was National Ag Day in America, which marks a nationwide effort to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us.
The National Ag Day program encourages every American to understand how food and fiber products are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products; value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.
In Minnesota, its not an exaggeration to suggest that agriculture is the backbone of our state. In the year 2020, agriculture, agri-food, forestry, and related industries in Minnesota were estimated to contribute 388,134 jobs; $37.1 billion in value-added; and $105.6 billion in sales.
Of the $37.1 billion in total value added and 388,134 jobs from the agriculture, agri-food, forestry, and related economic activity, crop production and related industries contributed $8.7 billion in value added and 84,648 jobs; livestock production and related industries contributed $9.9 billion in value added and 126,218 jobs; forestry production and related industries contributed $7.3 billion in value added and 67,956 jobs; and processing and other agriculture and related industries contributed $11.1 billion in value added and 109,312 jobs.
As a farmer, I can tell you agriculture is an intense but rewarding career. It also has its challenges. Anything from drought to disease can create unexpected problems with your crops and livestock.
The latest challenge that is being seen in Minnesota and our surrounding states is High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Since late November 2021 there have been a number of cases of HPAI detected in the Eastern and Midwestern United States and Canada, in both wild birds and poultry facilities. It’s a serious disease and requires rapid response because it is highly contagious and often fatal to chickens and turkeys, and it’s being carried and spread by migratory waterfowl.
Our largest poultry farms are often the center of media attention when it comes to stories surrounding HPAI, but I can tell you the infection can be just as devastating to many backyard flocks across the state.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has some tips available regarding biosecurity and points of contact if you have questions or concerns regarding HPAI. Check out www.bah.state.mn.us/poultry/#biosecurity for more information.
As always, National Ag Week reminds us that the men and women who maintain the nation’s food supply help keep this country afloat. My thanks to all who have chosen agriculture as their career and for their day-to-day efforts on and around the farm.
Have a good weekend,