Aldrich CPAs + Advisors partners with Oregon Aglink in their dedication to growing Oregon agriculture through education and promotion efforts. We asked the executive director of Oregon Aglink, Geoff Horning, to elaborate on the importance of the agriculture industry and specifically how Oregon farmers impact our country.
Though I didn’t grow up living on a farm, I remember being perplexed that my friends didn’t have grandparents who did. I thought everybody loaded up the car on weekends and drove over the hills and through the woods to their grandparents’ farm. Some of my fondest memories as a youth are feeding the chickens and cows with Grandpa or building forts in the hay loft with my cousins. Moving irrigation pipe through sugar beats is another story altogether.
At an early age, I was exposed to the important role agriculture has in the United States. My education extended outside of the schools and through my family, where I learned the values of a work ethic, conserving the environment, and the fundamentals of where food comes from. Throughout much of the history of the United States, agriculture and education have been closely related. In fact, kids today get summer vacation because the school year was originally determined by planting, cultivating and harvesting schedules.
Instead of going to the farm, my friends spent their summer vacation playing baseball or traveling with their families. Schools had very little or no educational curriculum regarding the importance of agriculture. Within many communities, the emphasis on the importance of agriculture has diminished. As the urban growth boundaries continue to expand, it is becoming clear it is the responsibility of the agriculture community to tell our story.
Not everybody gets to spend their weekend on the farm. As an industry, it’s our job to let them know what they’re missing. That’s the main reason Oregon Aglink started the Adopt a Farmer program, which partners middle school science programs with a farm or ranch for the entire academic year.
But, it’s not just children who are fascinated by Oregon agriculture. Recently, I had a conversation with a gentleman from Alabama on how Oregon grass seed is used on many natural grass athletic fields in the United States, including virtually every recent Super Bowl. He was also astounded to learn the lawn surrounding the White House is seeded with Oregon grass, and even the past two World Cups in South Africa and Brazil were played on a little piece of the Northwest.
As I witnessed his interest in Oregon agriculture grow, I turned the conversation toward other segments of our industry. My new friend was shocked to learn that nearly 100 percent of the United States’ production of hazelnuts comes from Oregon, or that Oregon ranks in the top 3 in the United States in the production of Christmas trees, peppermint, onions, pears, blueberries, sweet cherries, and nursery stock. I tried explaining to him about the world-renowned wines we produce in Oregon, but somehow the gentleman from Alabama wanted to focus instead on the fact we are a national leader in hops production as well.
Chatting with my new friend, I could tell he was interested in learning more about Oregon agriculture. I like to think he left our conversation with a better appreciation for the impact Oregon farmers and ranchers have throughout the country. Our story is easy, and it’s a good one. Not everybody can grow up living on or around a farm like I did, but everybody can celebrate agriculture. Happy National Ag Day!
Geoff is the Executive Director of Oregon Aglink. Prior to joining the organization in 2006, he spent over 10 years as the Oregon Association of Nurseries’ Trade Show Manager, working with OAN publications and producing OAN’s Yard, Garden & Patio Show and Farwest Show.