Growing up on a small crop and hog farm in Perry County, Illinois, I have memories as a child listening to the radio with my father or uncle to hear the latest agriculture news. As farmers, they relied on and trusted receiving weather, farm, and market updates from the local radio station, WDQN. Some days my father would nod in agreement liking what he heard on the radio and other days my uncle would shake his head and turn the volume down. But the important thing was they always tuned in and listened.

As a child, I never guessed that I would grow up to be on the receiving end of interviews to report the crop, livestock, and agriculture census numbers that we listened for.  Having worked for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for 30 years, I have had the pleasure to talk with a great number of farm broadcasters. Folks who are dedicated to delivering the information and stories to farmers, ranchers, and rural America.

Now on the eve of NAFB Trade Talk as I prepare to gather with farm broadcasters from around the country, I have a simple message to share with them, “Thank you for everything you do.”

The role of farm broadcasting, ag radio, and television is just as important today as it was when I was a child listening on my family farm in Illinois. Even with advances in technology, farm broadcasting remains a vital tool for communicating with producers today. Whether tuning in on their radio, streaming on their computer, downloading a podcast, watching the television, or listening on an app with their smartphone – producers still seek out news from their trusted and knowledgeable farm broadcasters.

Just recently, I saw the tremendous value we received by working with the farm broadcaster community during the 2012 Census of Agriculture. You helped us take our news and information to the airwaves and reached producers when they were tuned in and ready to listen. We were able to encourage response and thanks to your help it was a success. The most recent census of agriculture represents America’s 3.2 million farmers and ranchers and the new trends in agriculture.

And with your help today, we continue to tell the story of U.S. agriculture production – the who, what, how, and where of America’s food, fiber, and fuel system. You help deliver the data back to those who provide the facts by filling out NASS surveys throughout the year. And, you help keep agriculture in the news and relevant. We could not reach America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural America the way we do, everyday, without you – America’s farm broadcaster. For that, we thank you!

There are still many more stories to tell. From the more than 6 million pieces of data in the Census of Agriculture, to the hundreds of surveys conducted each year, and the reports issued from those surveys covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture, the opportunities to continue to bring agriculture to the forefront of our news are endless. Working together, we can continue to reach America’s 3.2 million farmers and ranchers and show with facts that Agriculture Counts!