Recognizing National Ag Day 2022: An Interview with ACA Chair Amy Bradford
By Michelle Pelletier Marshall, Women in Agribusiness Media (March 15, 2022)
It might be safe to say that for the first time – what with over two years of a global pandemic and now weeks into a new war, which have caused sky high prices and shortages of food – that almost everyone in the world has a better appreciation of agricultural goods and how they sustain their lives. There are many groups worldwide who have been celebrating the amazing feats of agriculture for decades, and dedicating a day – National Ag Day – to spotlight this. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies, and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture on National Ag Day. This year, the celebration is on March 22, 2022.
To recognize and share in this momentous occasion, we compiled a few incredible agricultural facts to share (view them at the end of the interview), and spoke to Amy Bradford, chair of The Agriculture Council of America (ACA). In her “day job”, Bradford is corporate communications manager for GROWMARK out of their Bloomington, Illinois, headquarters. GROWMARK is an agricultural supply and grain marketing cooperative that serves more than 400,000 customers through member cooperatives and retail operations across North America.
The Council, which was formed in 1974, is an organization of leaders in the ag, food, and fiber sectors dedicated to increasing the public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in society. The primary focus of this non-profit organization is to conduct the National Agriculture Day Program which occurs in March of every year.
We asked Bradford to provide more details about the special day.
1). How/why/when did you and GROWMARK get involved with the ACA?
GROWMARK has been a corporate sponsor of Ag Day for several years. We see it as a good way to lend our voice to the recognition of the nation’s farmers and ranchers. As an agricultural supply cooperative, GROWMARK helps feed, fuel, and clothe the world by providing the products and services farmers and ranchers need to grow crops and raise livestock. I joined the ACA Board in 2019 and became chair in 2021. My primary role is to oversee the development and execution of National Ag Day activities.
2). What are the key aspects of Ag Day that are important for the general public to know?
I am really excited about National Ag Day this year. It will be the first time in two years we have gathered in person to recognize American agriculture and the value it brings to society. One key, and very visible activity of Ag Day will be the Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall. This celebration will bring companies that support Americas farmers and ranchers to the National Mall. There will be equipment, machinery, innovative technology, and future ag leaders who will interact with the general public attending the Ag Day celebration. Exhibits will be open on Monday, March 21, and Tuesday, March 22. The exhibits will demonstrate the innovation involved in driving sustainable farming practices across the United States.
3). The slogan of this year’s National Ag Day is “Growing A Climate for Tomorrow”. Please explain the genesis of this and its intended message to the audience.
This year’s theme: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow, is designed to highlight the sustainability of American agriculture and how modern agricultural practices provide the environment for future farmers and ranchers. The innovative technology exhibited in the equipment that will be on the National Mall is an example of how farmers are using technology in their farm operations.
The theme is also the basis of the National Ag Day Essay Contest, which solicits essays from college students involved in Ag Day activities. Students can submit a written or video essay for consideration. You can see the winning entries at agday.org/essay-contest.
4). Now more than ever, the world focus is on agriculture and food. How does this help the ACA messaging, and what challenges and opportunities do current crises present for the ACA?
There is tremendous focus on food and agriculture, which has been heightened by COVID and supply chain issues. We’re finding that more Americans want to know where their food comes from and have connected with local farmers and ranchers. This isn’t a new occurrence; it has increased since 2020 and we believe it is a trend that will continue.
The increased awareness of agriculture in general is heartening. And as these consumer/farmer- rancher connections continue, there is ongoing interaction and education of the value of American agriculture. At the same time, there are areas that need upgrades to infrastructure, and high-speed internet access for these newer businesses to continue. We believe these connections are turning into allies as we advocate for American agriculture needs. We are very encouraged with how Americans are interested in seeing America’s farmers and ranchers succeed.
10 Interesting Facts about Ag
Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world. This equates to 10.3 percent of U.S. employment.
Women are 37 percent of people employed in ag globally, but over 50 percent in some countries.
Four crops account for half of global primary crop production: sugar cane, maize, wheat, and rice.
The top three countries that account for half or more of the total production of sugarcane, corn, rice, and soybeans are Brazil, China, and the U.S.
The Americas are net exporters of fruits and vegetables, while Asia and Europe are net importers.
Over one-fifth of fruits and vegetables are lost between farms and consumers.
The average age of the U.S. farmer is 57.7 years old.
Ninety-six percent of farms and ranches are family owned.
There are 914 million acres of farmland, just in the U.S.
ABOUT AMY BRADFORD
Amy Bradford is corporate communications manager for GROWMARK, an international supply cooperative doing business across North America.
Bradford is responsible for the development and implementation of the corporate communications strategy including employee, member, and external communications; protecting and promoting the cooperative’s reputation; proactive corporate media relations and public relations; young producer programming; cooperative education and awareness; and the cooperative’s annual meeting. She is also responsible for the organization’s philanthropic efforts and manages the GROWMARK Foundation.
Bradford’s 30-year professional career includes work in the public and private sectors, holding positions at Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and Farm Credit Services of Illinois. Her background includes print and broadcast journalism, public and media relations, issue management, and state and national government relations.
She has been actively involved in the National Agri-Marketing Association, and served as president, vice president, and secretary-treasurer. She is a member of Public Relations Society of America, Ag Communicators Network, Agriculture Relations Council, and Cooperative Communicators Association. She is a mentor in the Agriculture Future of America Fellows program. Bradford holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Greenville University and earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University.