The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of the Family Farmer, and farming families from across the global are celebrating.

“As a family farmer, I am excited that we will be celebrating the benefits and importance of family farmers throughout the year, as we celebrate the International Year of the Family Farmer,” Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, said in a news release.  “Celebrating family farmers and what they do just makes sense.”

Capital Press reports USDA data show there are 2.1 million family farms in the country. Worldwide, there are 500 million family farms across both developed and developing countries.  Family farms come in all shapes and sizes, from sprawling a sprawling, multi-generational operation to a retired couple’s 2-acre plot that provides vegetables for a local farmers’ market.

“It is worth celebrating family farming because, in all its diversity, it is the model of food production that really feeds the world, while caring for the earth,” said Jose Osaba of World Rural Forum, an association that promotes rural issues. “Seventy percent of the world’s food production is provided by family farmers.”

Farming families take global spotlight in 2014Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, believes that the U.N.’s announcement is a great way to reach consumers, who continue to become further removed from agriculture with every generation.

“This is one way of highlighting what farmers do and re-establishing that connection, not only to the production of food, but how that food provides nutrition, how the earth is cared for and how we help our fellow human beings who may be suffering from hunger,” he said.

See, “Honoring the family farmer.”

On the campaign’s Facebook page, visitors are urged to take a pledge to support family farmers. Though it’s just beginning to build momentum, several fans have praised the decision to stand behind the world’s food producers.

“What a success with 2014 international of family faming,” one fan wrote.

Click here to learn more and to sign the petition to show support for family farmers worldwide