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Editorial: Thank a farmer on National Farmers Day

The Stambaughs celebrate National Farmers Day by doing what they do every day -- milking cows.

Have you eaten, or do you plan to eat, today? Of course you have or will. So thank a farmer. Are you going to work today? For about one-sixth of the American workforce, you should probably thank a farmer for that, too.

Oct. 12, is National Farmers Day, an opportunity to recognize farmers for the hard work that they do that provides us with the food we eat every day and the jobs a number of us have.

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Believe it or not, agriculture is the largest employment sector in the United States, contributing in some fashion to about 23 million jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means about 17 percent of the American civilian workforce is doing something related to agriculture.

It's also the largest commercial industry in Maryland, employing approximately 350,000 people in some capacity. It is also the largest single land use in Maryland with more than 2 million acres, about a third of the state's total land area, used for farming in 2016, according to state data.

Of course, a much smaller percentage of these jobs actually involve working the land on a farm, just about 1.5 percent, in fact. But think about it: Without agriculture, what other jobs wouldn't exist? Jobs in factories that process food, truck drivers who transport our food and jobs selling food — whether in a grocery store or your favorite restaurant — don't exist without farmers to grow it first. Then there's the economy of farming equipment and other necessary supplies like feed.

Agriculture directly accounts for more than $4.7 billion in output on Maryland's economy, according to University of Maryland research on the topic. It adds another $2 billion indirectly and in induced effects in other sectors.

A study from Cornell University titled "The Impact of Agriculture: It's More Than Economic," highlights the importance of agriculture beyond generating jobs and income. According to the study, it improves quality of life by preserving open spaces for wildlife and bucolic views, providing a buffer to development, offering recreational access, a local source of fresh food and preserving a valued heritage.

These are things that Carroll County clearly values about its farming history, and it shows in the county's ag land preservation program. The county has long had a goal of preserving 100,000 through conservation easements for just those above reasons. Thus far, more than 70,000 acres have been preserved.

The county commissioners have allocated $5.5 million to ag preservation in the current fiscal year and, recently, the county was granted $993,000 from the state for conservation efforts in the Little Pipe Creek and Upper Patapsco Rural Legacy Areas.

So today, on National Farmers Day, thank a farmer for the food on your table, the jobs they are providing, the open spaces of our county and everything else that they contribute to our communities.

And if you want to enjoy the fruits of their labor, be sure to visit the annual Fall Harvest Celebration event at the Carroll County Farm Museum this Saturday, Oct. 14, for a pop-up farmers market to purchase Carroll County grown products, and to celebrate the county's agricultural heritage.



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