This week, we salute all those involved in Agriculture during what is recognized as National Ag Week, which runs through March 19.

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a local High School Career Day and speak to students about the many career options available in the field of agriculture. My challenge to the youth was, as our land area to grow food decreases with a growing population and increased urbanization, their challenge will be to continue to feed the world population that will nearly double in the next 50 years.

By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture. Today, each American farmer feeds more than 144 people - a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s.

Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more - and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States. In 2010, the U.S. increased trade exports by 21 percent, to $1.28 trillion - surpassing Germany and claiming its role as second-highest exporter in the world, next to China.

A major component of this triumph? The massive increase in agricultural exports, which made up about nine percent of all goods shipped abroad, according to FarmPolicyFacts.org.

Locally, agriculture continues to have a big impact on the local economy. Last year, more than $170 million dollars of agricultural income was produced that had an overall economic impact on the local economy of an estimated $419 million. So this week, if you see a farmer or rancher, thank them for what they do, as they continue to provide the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.

Back in the fields, farmers are wrapping up grain sorghum planting and continuing to plant cotton with hopes that they do not run out of soil moisture to get the crop up. Top soil moisture is drying up and, yes, we need rain again.

Private applicator

training offered

To help meet the needs of local agricultural producers needing a pesticide applicators license, training will now be offered on a monthly schedule (the first Tuesday of the month - except October).

The next training will be conducted on Tuesday, April 5, at the Nueces County Extension Office located in the Johnny S. Calderon County Building at 710 E Main Ave. in Robstown.

The training will begin at 8 a.m. and will conclude by 11:30 a.m. Testing will be administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture at their office at 5155 Flynn Parkway, Suite 100 in Corpus Christi.

A private applicator is defined by law as a person who uses or supervises the use of a restricted-use or state-limited use pesticide for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity.

Participants wishing to take the training must make reservations prior to the training date by contacting the Nueces County Extension Office at (361) 767-5223. The fee for the training is $50 and includes study manuals.

For additional information about the training contact Jeff Stapper, County Extension Agent - Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Individuals with disabilities, who require an auxiliary aid, service or accommodation in order to participate in any of the mentioned activities, are encouraged to contact the County Extension Office eight days before all programs for assistance.

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.