Greetings! As we welcome the warmer weather and new beginnings that spring brings, we would like to remind you that our farmers are starting to gather in the fields to produce this year’s crop – the food that comes to your table each and every day.

National Agriculture Day was Wednesday, March 18 and the theme was “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations.” This is a day to celebrate and support agriculture and the people that work in the agriculture industry. They are the farmers and ranchers that grow crops, raise, and care for livestock and tend to the land. When we think of farmers, many times city-dwellers think of overalls and a pitchfork. But in today’s agriculture world, more and more farmers are communicating from their tractors and using technologies that make our farms and ranches more efficient. Pitchforks have turned into iPads, smart phones, drones, satellites and robotic milking machines.

Today, the average American farmer or rancher is 55 years old. Young people are not returning to the farm to work and take over farming. This is everyone’s problem because we need the next generation of farmers and ranchers to raise our crops and livestock to sustain our lifestyles as consumers with cheap, abundant and safe food. With the world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, who will grow and raise our food? We need a next generation of farmers, ranchers and agriculturists to take on that task.

Whether they come back to the farm or ranch to work, work for agricultural development companies like AGPROfessionals, or help develop policies farmers and ranchers need to sustain their family farms, we need them to take on the task. Educating our youth on the importance of agriculture is vital to the future of Colorado’s ag industry. Finding new leaders to assume roles on boards and commissions is also essential.

Agriculture is one of the largest contributors to our State’s economy, supporting more than 173,000 jobs in Colorado, generating more than $40 billion of economic activity annually, and exporting over $2 billion in food and agricultural products in 2013. Farmers and ranchers are innovative entrepreneurs and business leaders who remain resilient in their dedication to Colorado agriculture.

So how can you help find the next generation of farmers, ranchers and members of the agriculture family? Encourage a young person to learn more about jobs in agriculture. Attend a forum or meeting that discusses ag issues and policies that affect our farming and our food.

Attend local events, county and state fairs to show your support of farmers and ranchers. Educate yourself on local, state, national and world food and ag issues. Support your local FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, or young farmer groups. Let them know that they are needed and that we need them. Agriculture is a part of our heritage and we hope it continues to be a strong part of our future.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA). ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.