I am blessed to be in my 15th month as California’s secretary of agriculture. In my travels around the state, I have gained a new appreciation for the miracles that farmers and ranchers create every day, against considerable odds. As we look to the future and its anticipated demand that world food production double over the next 40 years, we will be relying on agriculture more than ever before. It’s a thought I can’t get out of my mind as we celebrate California Ag Day in Sacramento.
Ag Day was originally intended as a way for farmers and ranchers to meet their state lawmakers, and that remains a primary focus. But it has grown to be so much more. It’s an annual carnival of food and fun, an educational opportunity and, most importantly, Ag Day has become an invaluable event to connect with the future – children.
My schedule today was full – a breakfast speech, a California Grown news conference, and the Ag Day festivities, themselves. Those are all critically important activities on a day like this. I also met children in CDFA’s auditorium and had the profound honor of reading them two stories, The Carrot Seed and Small Pig. And, I met some talented student-authors who won awards in the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom’s annual Imagine This writing contest. In many ways, these last two activities were the most important of all.
We need our children to grow up and share in agriculture’s future. We need them on the farm and in the hundreds of related jobs that await them. Ag Day helps them see the possibilities. It truly is a celebration of the future.