By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 20 –There were a number of outstanding events taking place during National Agriculture Week, but one of the "stars of the show" arrived to read her National Ag Day essay at USDA's Whitten building last week, and she is only in the 9th grade!  

Nora Faris receiving her award at USDA in Washington on National Ag Day

ACA called on ninth- to 12th-grade students nationwide to submit an original written essay of 450 words or an original, two-minute video essay about the importance of agriculture in the U.S. Using this year’s theme, “American Agriculture: Your Food. Your Farmer,” students addressed how the agriculture industry continues to feed a growing population while acknowledging the many ways today’s farmers continue to provide a safe, stable food supply and sustain the significant role agriculture plays in everyday life.

The ACA honored Faris, a ninth-grader at Concordia High School, Concordia, Mo., and Kyle Trevino, an 11th-grader at Peachtree Christian Academy, Madera, Calif., at the 2011 Ag Day event held at the USDA Whitten Building Patio. Faris read her essay aloud and Trevino’s video essay played to an audience of industry representatives, members of Congress, federal agency representatives, media and others at the Celebration of Agriculture dinner in Washington, D.C.

Below is the full text of the winning written essay, followed by the winning video.

American Agriculture: Your Food. Your Farmer

by Nora Faris, Concordia, Mo., Concordia High School, 9th grade

Their faces peer out at me from the glossy cover of a magazine, the bold headline touting them as “America’s Most Valuable People.” Among their ranks are political pundits, ingenious inventors, humble humanitarians and a host of other charismatic characters. Their varied accomplishments reflect a time-tested tradition of hard work and good ol’ American ingenuity, but their lofty title as our country’s “most valuable” citizens makes me wonder. Would Americans perish from “technological withdrawal” if Steve Jobs discontinued the iPad? No. Would a national crisis ensue if Lady GaGa retired from performing? I don’t think so. If Mark Zuckerberg terminated Facebook, would the world as we know it cease to exist? I think not.

Then it occurs to me: America’s “Most Valuable People” aren’t found on magazine covers. Rather, they are found in farm fields, feed stores and livestock barns. They are American farmers, a group whose labors, although largely unrecognized, are vital to the lives of all U.S. citizens – or at least the ones who eat.

In this modern age of supermarkets and 24-hour fast food restaurants, it has become increasingly hard for the American public to fathom where their food comes from. Long gone are the days when a chicken dinner meant selecting a bird from the henhouse. Today’s consumer, faced with an endless array of choices, selects their poultry with little knowledge of its origin, unaware of the work that went into producing and dispatching the bird. They fail to realize the vital connection between farm and food, between production and consumption. Little do they realize that without our nation’s strong agricultural infrastructure of farmers, their grocery store shelves would be bare.

As America’s population continues to grow, a farmer’s job is to keep up with the escalating demand for food. They will have to play multiple roles in their quest to provide nutritious, affordable products for more than 300 million Americans. Farmers will become inventors, developing devices that will improve crop yields and abolish dated farming practices. They will become delegates for agriculture, lobbying for the advancement of farming in their legislatures. Most importantly, farmers will become naturalists, determining the best solutions for responsible soil, water and resource management.

Although it’s unlikely that a soybean farmer from Kansas will ever steal Kim Kardashian’s VIP publicity, their true importance to their fellow citizens cannot be denied. American farmers’ dedication to maintaining an unrivaled level of food security makes them our nation’s “Most Valuable People,” even if they drive a Case instead of a Cadillac.

Ag Day Video Essay Winner

Kyle Trevino, Madera, Calif., Peachtree Christian Academy,  11th grade

This year marked the 38th anniversary of National Ag Day. The Ag Day Essay Contest was sponsored by CHS Inc., The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting, National Agri-Marketing Association, Country Living Association and McCormick Company. For more information on National Ag Day, click HERE.

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