The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) is introducing National Forage Week for the first time June 21–27, 2015. Slightly less than 2 percent of the total U.S. population lives on a farm, making it more difficult for the general public to relate to farming and the accompanying challenges. As the general public moves further away from its agrarian heritage and rural lifestyle, AFGC strives to bring farming and forages into greater public awareness with the launch of National Forage Week.
Gary Wilson, AFGC president from Jenera, Ohio, says, “AFGC wanted a way to bring notice and recognition to forages as one of the largest agriculture industries in this country. National Forage Week was first suggested by John Rodgers, a forage producer from Pennsylvania who was a former AFGC President. The AFGC board decided to take this on as an official initiative of our national organization to promote all types of forage production ranging from grazing to commercial hay production.”
The National Forage Week campaign is designed to raise awareness and educate the public about the role of forages in milk and meat consumption. Consumers are increasingly inquisitive and concerned about their food sources, and AFGC is positioning the organization to better understand consumer concerns and work diligently to provide information to consumers about the role of forages and forage production.
In its initial campaign the roll-out will include social media blitzes, photo fliers for local circulation, email blasts and press releases. The campaign is expected to grow each year to add video elements, additional farming publication coverage and congressional designation.
Wilson says, “We wanted to provide some tools to producers to help tell their story. We’d love to have forage producers contact us and we’ll send them the graphics and tools they can use to help get the word out that forages are a vital part of the food story.”
The 2012 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) survey reported hay, silage and greenchop acreage in the U.S. at 55,775,162 acres, of a total 2.3 billion acres. These forages were produced on 813,583 farms. In 2007, USDA Economic Research Service reported 777 million acres in grassland pasture and range, not including cropland used for grazing. The USDA 2012 survey also reported alfalfa hay comprising 16,625,832 acres grown on 255,360 farms. Corn for silage is grown on 86,365 farms on 7,196,628 acres.
AFGC is asking for support at the local level from forage producers across the nation to help get the word out by putting up fliers in the local farm supply stores, sending press releases to hometown papers, arranging for public service listings on local business reader boards and posting Facebook or other social media posts. AFGC will be equipping each of their 22 state forage affiliates with promotional material in addition to the national organization’s campaign.
Wilson says, “Every industry needs product promotion and this is one more way AFGC can help all forage producers succeed by bringing more recognition, promotion and attention to the product these dedicated producers are working so hard to produce! Share photos of forage production on your farm and add the #NationalForageWeek to the end of your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts, so people all over the nation can see the photos.
To learn more about how you can participate in National Forage Week :