Newswise — Whether through trade, climate change or other market challenges, the shape of U.S. agriculture continues to shift. About a century ago, there were about 6.5 million farms in the United States; by 2012, the most recent data available, that number stood at about 2 million – although the amount of productive farmland had declined only about 5 percent over the same period.

But the numbers only tell part of a story, says Antonio DiTommaso, professor of soil and crop sciences at Cornell University. Despite its challenges, agriculture remains a career which impacts daily life – even more so now, as society seeks solutions for how to feed a growing planet.

National Agriculture Day, which this year is Tuesday, March 20, is a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and others acknowledge the challenges and recognize and celebrate the successes of American agriculture.


DiTommaso says:

“We have significant challenges to overcome in the field of agriculture – climate change, pesticide resistance, feeding a growing global population. But great minds are working toward solutions already.

“New approaches in agriculture offer exciting opportunities. Indoor and rooftop farms for year-round growing. New technologies for controlling pests, weeds and disease to improve yields. Precision tools for greater efficiency and less impact on the environment. We're designing hybrid models of food production that balance the needs of the environment with the need to produce more food sustainably. We’re working on new models and new strategies, every day. I want students to recognize and embrace how they can contribute.

“Despite its challenges, agriculture remains a profession with a profound impact on our daily lives. More so now than ever, commitment to agriculture means we can overcome our challenges and lead to a more sustainable life for all.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

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