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News - Every day is Earth Day to Kentucky farmers

  • April 16, 2012

As the themes of soil conservation, clean water, reduced carbon emissions and other environmentally-friendly topics take center stage for the annual Earth Day celebration on April 22, it is important to note that Kentucky has a workforce 85,000-strong aiming for those same goals year-round – farmers.

“Farmers have always been the primary caretakers of the land and they carry that responsibility with honor and pride,” said Kentucky Farm Bureau president Mark Haney. “In fact, I would make the argument that farmers were the world’s first environmentalists.”

Kentucky’s farmers not only do a great deal to protect their land, they strive to make it better. Aside from planting trees, protecting wetlands and providing wildlife sanctuaries, our farmers work diligently to improve environmental quality by installing conservation buffers on their farmland. Across the U.S., farmers have voluntarily enrolled approximately 30 million acres into the nation’s Conservation Reserve Program to date, making it the largest public-private partnership for conservation and wildlife habitat in the country.

“Unlike most other jobs, farming is a family affair and usually passed down from one generation to the next,” added Haney. “It only makes sense that farmers would try to take the best possible care of their land.”

Embracing new technology, farmers today are also adopting advanced methods for managing their land and investing in business services that will help them excel in an environmentally sensitive world. From contour farming (planting crops in horizontal rows around hillsides instead of vertically, which keeps soil from washing away) and the Kentucky-pioneered no-till farming practices (leaving crop stalks and roots in the ground after a harvest to prevent soil erosion and utilize less energy while working the field) to dead animal composting and complex manure management systems, sound environmental stewardship is a 24/7, year-round job for the Bluegrass State’s agricultural producers.

Farmers are also at the forefront of producing clean, renewable fuels that provide for a healthier environment and a wide array of “green” jobs around the world. Through agricultural efficiencies made possible by biotechnology, farmers are additionally able to shrink their environmental footprint, reduce their use of pesticides and produce more food on less land with even fewer impacts on soil and water resources.

Kentucky Farm Bureau agrees that it is good to have a day set aside to intentionally talk about what is needed to save our environment, but feels it is more important to do something about it. If Americans really want our nation to “go green,” we should support the first green industry: agriculture.

“Farmers don’t celebrate Earth Day just once a year; they live it out every day,” Haney concluded. “It’s a huge weight to carry, but because of their many environmental contributions we can all enjoy greener pastures.”

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