Here in Lubbock we all know the beauty of the white cotton in the fall and notice the fields of green wheat across the country side this time of year. But do you ever stop to think about the hard work and months of preparation that go into growing the food on your plate at each meal? Well today is National Ag Day, and Mary Jane Buerkle at Plains Cotton Growers said that especially today, everyone can be thankful for agriculture.
"Today is National Ag Day and it's just a fantastic opportunity to really recognize agriculture on a nation wide basis," Buerkle said. "Several different groups are involved, and like I said, just a great way to recognize agriculture, and here locally the importance of agriculture on the High Plains."
Our region is home to many major crops including cotton, which makes up all of America's blue jeans that we're so fond of, and many food crops as well.
"We are so diverse here. Whether it's cotton, corn, grain sorghum, wheat, peanuts, I mean, you pretty much name it, we're either growing it or doing research here on it," Buerkle said. "So as I said, just a really great opportunity to realize what agriculture is all about here."
Agriculture not only feeds and clothes people in our region, it also creates thousands of jobs, including those in agriculture infrastructure industries as well.
"Agriculture is a tremendous player in Lubbock's economy," Buerkle said. "And here on the High Plains alone, we grow more than 2/3 of the state's cotton crop, and then most years we will grow about 1/3 of the nation's crop, so that's just cotton. Whenever you take other crops into consideration, we are a significant player in those crops as well. So overall agriculture is huge here on the High Plains. It drives our economy whether you're talking about producers all the way to the rest of the industry, whether you're a ginner, or a grain elevator, or an implement dealer."
Plus Lubbock's strong ag backbone trickles down into all other areas of the economy as well including local businesses and the restaurant and housing markets.
"You can talk to pretty much anyone here in the retail sector, and I'm talking just a regular retail sector, your malls, your stores, your car dealers, and they can tell you for sure what an impact not only just a cotton crop, but all of agriculture has on their business," Buerkle said. "So whenever we see a couple of years that aren't as good as average, they feel it too."
Buerkle said that even if you don't feel like you're directly involved in agriculture because you're not a producer, consumers play an important part in the picture as well. So stay informed about what's going on with the production world around you.
"The very best thing that you can do even year round is just follow us, look for the latest news and information. Social media is so prevalent right now, all of the commodity associations around here have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds," Buerkle said. "As far as today, just thank a farmer. Sit down and look at the food on your plate and realize that had to come from somewhere originally. Look at the clothes that you're wearing, the sheets that you slept in the evening before, the towels that you have, those are made of cotton. So just recognize the importance of agriculture in your everyday life."
And in honor of National Ag Day, Lubbock's Chamber of Commerce is hosting a very special 'Salute to Ag' luncheon today at the Hillcrest Country Club. So remember to thank a farmer or rancher for keeping us well supplied in food and fiber.