This week is National Agriculture week, and today (March 25) is National Ag Day! For those of us in agriculture, this is our week to geek out if you will. I believe agriculture is important enough to be celebrated daily, but since it is not, here are some fun facts for you…
The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) is responsible for conducting the National Ag Day annually as a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Both the ACA and National Ag Day were founded in 1973! There are four key values, they believe every American should:
– 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.
– Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, and fiber industry.
Before the ACA and National Ag Day, there was a man named Dr. Norman Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) who was called the “Father of the Green Revolution”. He was also called the “Man who saved a billion lives”! Those are some amazing and powerful titles. Dr. Borlaug was born on a farm in Ceresco, Iowa; he studied forestry, plant pathology, and microbiology; and was a practical, energetic, hands-on researcher who worked side-by-side with farm workers, students, and interns. Dr Borlaug spent 22 years in Mexico, and during that time a dwarf variety of wheat was developed that produced large amounts of grain, resisted disease, and resisted lodging (bending and breaking of the stalk on high producing varieties). This wheat variety was not only planted in Mexico, but also in India, Pakistan, Central and South America, Near and Middle East, and Africa – and was responsible for feeding a billion starving people!
Norman Borlaug received many prestigious awards in his lifetime including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal (the last two medals are the highest a civilian can receive). In 1984 he went to Texas A&M University as a Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture. The Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture has been established at Texas A&M, with the mission “To employ agricultural science to feed the world’s hungry and to support equity, quality of life and mutual respect among peoples.”
As you may have noticed, today, March 25, would have been Dr. Borlaug’s 100th birthday. To honor this legend, a statue of his likeness will be unveiled tonight at the U.S. Capitol by congressional leaders and Iowa lawmakers.
Today, on National Ag Day, and your 100th birthday celebration, I salute you Dr. Normal Borlaug, for your tremendous advancements in plant breeding and genetics!