Happy birthday, agriculture! Although March 21 – National Ag Day – is not actually a birthday like the one you and I celebrate each year, it is a celebration. On this day we celebrate American agriculture and our farm and ranch families who take great pride in growing a safe, sustainable food supply. We also recognize and celebrate their role in producing biofuels for transportation, fiber for clothing and other textiles, building materials and so much more. 

I consider it a privilege to play a part in telling the true story of American agriculture. Together with my family, I farm in north central Indiana. We grow corn that’s fed to cattle, pigs and chickens. Have you enjoyed a hamburger, steak, chicken wings or bacon lately? Then you’ve benefited from the corn we grow. 

We also grow soybeans. After harvest we take them to be crushed. Crushing releases oil that is used for cooking. Did you know that lecithin in soybeans is used for making chocolate? Another component after crushing is soybean meal, which is used to feed livestock. 

Sweet corn is our most challenging crop. It needs to be hand-picked as soon as it’s ready. Otherwise it goes to waste or the wildlife living around the field will eat it. We sell our sweet corn direct to consumers at local farmers markets.  

Through my work as a Farm Bureau leader, one of my favorite ways to help people understand more about where their food comes from is inviting them to our farm. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the light of wonder and understanding in someone’s eyes when they sit in the tractor next to me getting answers to their questions about food and farming. Since we can’t bring everyone to our farm, we also work with our county Farm Bureau to take the farm to schools, our local courthouse or even the county fair through a farm-to-pizza (or taco) experience. 

Sharing about the multitude of career opportunities in agriculture is another way to help people grow in understanding. Some of those jobs include engineers, agronomists, plant breeders, foresters, veterinarians, agriscience teachers, climate specialists, food scientists, nutritionists and many more. 

Demand for college graduates with degrees related to agriculture continues to grow, according to USDA. This includes job opportunities in management and business, such as marketers, financial advisors, credit analysts, business consultants, insurance managers and e-commerce specialists. 

With so much of our life depending on modern agriculture, it’s appropriate to set aside at least one day a year to recognize and celebrate our safe and abundant food supply. Join me on March 21, National Ag Day 2023, to celebrate America’s farm and ranch families. 

Isabella Chism is a row crop farmer in Indiana and serves as 2nd vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau. She also chairs the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee and serves on the board of the Agriculture Council of America, which conducts the National Agriculture Day Program each March. This column was originally published on the National Ag Day blog.