While driving to the post office to send off my donation to the government the other day after completing my income taxes, I saw a young man walking down the road who caught my attention.
I really wasn’t in all that good of a mood to begin with and the way his pants drooped below his waist brought out my granddaddy instinct to its fullest. Before I knew it, something made me roll my window down to holler out the words “Son, pull your britches up.”
But I guess my mother’s training went into over-ride and kicked-in, stopping my mouth from working, thus preventing me from becoming a part of the six o’clock news. Maybe it was not his fault anyway that his pants were dragging the ground and he continually jerked on them as he walked. It could have been Earth’s gravity pull causing the problem. I have that problem now a days since I’ve become older. It’s just hard to put a belt on a funnel, which seems to be the shape my body has developed due to gravity and too many biscuits.
Speaking of Earth’s gravity, this year marks the forty-third observation of Earth Day in this country, with numerous special events scheduled on April 22. It began in the spring of 1970 when I was completing my senior year of college. Individuals who first proposed and supported the original idea were the unusual group that those of my generation called “hippies.” They wanted immediate laws to protect what they called “Mother Earth” and got involved in protecting the environment.
At that time in history, many of us thought they were just a little on the weird side and if we ignored them they would just go away. However, today the environment has become a number one concern of our government and most of us.
Nationally and worldwide we celebrate a special day to remind everyone about the importance of protecting and conserving the water, air, and soil that are so vital to each and everyone of us. There will be parades, special school projects and classes, festivals, and other festivities to commemorate Earth Day. There is even an Earth Day organization that works year round. Their theme this year is The Face Of Climate Change, which is still a very debatable topic.
However, while others are proclaiming climate change and just what its face looks like, as well as getting worked up over "global warming" by supporting "global whining" during this one-day commemoration, one group of individuals will actually be doing something about it. They will not be seen marching, pretending to be green or any of those things to get media attention. Instead, they will treat the day as any other.
America and Tennessee’s farmers will view the day of April 22 just as they have each and everyday since the inception of Earth Day back in 1970. They will rise early, go to the fields and work from sunup to sundown to preserve the natural resources that they have been taught to conserve from past generations. They will continue to keep a low profile just as their ancestors have done as they too took great strides toward protecting and conserving our environment. There is a great difference in talking about doing something and actually doing it. Earth Day is everyday on Tennessee’s farms.
Farmers today are embracing new technology, adopting new farming methods and investing in business services to help them excel in an environmentally sensitive world. Here are just a few of the modern-day agriculture practices used by farmers to protect our earth:
• Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
• Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
• Contour farming, planting crops around hillsides instead of up and down, keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the United States are managed this way.
• Cattle producers and others control water run-off with sod waterways and diversions, erosion control structures and catch basins.
• Just as urban families recycle grass, newspaper and aluminum, farm families have practiced recycling for a long time by applying manure to fields to replace nutrients in the soil.
• Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation’s wildlife.
• In Tennessee alone, the use of no-till planting to save soil from erosion has increased over 75 percent in the last thirty years.
It is good to have an Earth Day to talk about what is needed to save our environment, but it is more important to be doing something about it. Farmers may keep a low profile on Earth Day, but they are doing more than their fair share to help protect this planet for the future generations to come and the majority doesn’t have to be told to pull their britches up either.
- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org