Kentucky Farm Bureau

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the global theme of climate change and other environmentally-friendly topics takes 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 actually the world's first environmentalists."

Kentucky's farmers not only do a great deal to protect the land, they strive to make it better. Aside from planting trees and shrubs for windbreaks, preserving and restoring wetland areas, and providing a habitat for many forms of wildlife, our farmers also work diligently to improve the quality of the environment by installing conservation buffers on their farmland. Across the U.S., more than 500,000 farmers have voluntarily enrolled approximately 27 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 often a family affair and 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."

Today's farmers are also embracing advanced methods for managing their land and investing in business services that will help them excel in an environmentally sensitive world. From contour farming and the Kentucky-pioneered no-till farming practices to dead animal composting and complex manure management systems, sound environmental stewardship is a 24/7, year-round job for the Commonwealth's agricultural producers.

Farmers remain 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 shrinking their environmental footprint, reducing their use of pesticides, and producing 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 protect 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 all can enjoy greener pastures."