I don’t know if the old wives’ tale, “in like a lion; out like a lamb,” holds true, but I do know Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) has tackled March with a roar of enthusiasm. Earlier this month, MOFB members celebrated the annual Thank a Farmer Week by hosting events around the state. They greeted consumers through a variety of activities and shared knowledge of agriculture and its impact on our daily lives.

Last week, MOFB’s focus transitioned from conversations at the local level to those on the federal level. More than 90 MOFB members traveled to our nation’s capital for the annual “fly-in.” Farmers and ranchers met with legislators, legislative staff and USDA officials to discuss the state of the farm economy, the farm bill and other issues impacting their farms, neighbors and rural communities.

While the first two weeks of the month were busy with excitement, it was the perfect build up to both National Ag Week and National Ag Day (March 19). National Ag Day coincides with the first day of spring, which is always a fitting start to one of the busiest times of the year in agriculture: spring planting and calving season.

National Ag Week is set aside each year to highlight the contributions of the nation’s farmers and ranchers. As the world population continues to soar, consumers are another generation removed from the farm.  As that personal connection to the soil fades, there is an ever growing need to build a link between consumers and those who produce our food, fuel and fiber.

The MOFB Promotion and Education (P&E) Committee is dedicated to consumer outreach and agricultural education year-round. P&E members develop educational opportunities, agricultural curriculum and interactive projects that can help students and consumers of all ages better understand agriculture production. Their work also includes virtual farm field trips and handouts for children of all ages. Teachers are encouraged to apply for the Agriculture in the Classroom mini-grant program. Applications for the current round can be found at MOFB.org, with the next deadline slated for May 31.

Teaching kids about agriculture helps build that connection with the food, fuel and fiber they will use throughout their lives. Building that connection can also help us plan for the future and who will fill our shoes. From production agriculture to food science, energy and research, the ag industry has limitless career opportunities. It is imperative that the next generation returns to the farm, so providing these options can ensure that the best and brightest help rural Missouri survive and thrive.

As we celebrate National Ag Week, we say thanks to those who dedicate so much time serving others. Missouri farmers and ranchers not only produce an abundance of food for their home, community, state, country and world, but they do so with a sense of immeasurable pride. Together, they steward the land, and our rural communities, from generation to generation to ensure bountiful harvests can be enjoyed for years to come.