My three kids love a good, made-up holiday. Sept. 16 was International Talk Like a Pirate Day – it’s real. I know. It’s weird. My kids got home that day and announced the holiday to me. They celebrated it at school. I don’t know why, and honestly, I’m unsure how. There is always a reason to celebrate, I guess.

Another holiday that is also “made up” but more worth celebrating is National Farmers Day. Oct. 16 is a day to celebrate you and the other great American farmers. The date was chosen to mark the occasion because it is the end of the traditional harvest season in the U.S. That might be aspirational more than realistic because I’m sure many of you are still busy in the fields. Still, take an extra moment during your morning coffee (or your preferred source of caffeine) to feel the appreciation of the millions of Americans and world citizens. We know that everyone doesn’t care – but so many do.

While you are sipping on that coffee, here are a few interesting statistics on your fellow American farmers:

  • Farmers comprise less than 2% of the population – you are one of only a few.
  • Still, in some places (I’m sure you can guess where), farmers comprise a higher percentage of the population. In South Dakota, farmers are 10.9% of the labor force. That is the highest percentage across all 50 states. Rhode Island has the smallest, with 0.3% of the labor force.
  • The state with the most farmers is Texas, with 412,575 farmers or 3% of the workforce. The state with the lowest population of farmers is Alaska, with 990 farmers or 0.5% of the labor force. It makes me cold just thinking about farming in Alaska.
  • The average farm size in the U.S. is 441 acres, and it produces enough food and fiber for 165 people, making the U.S. self-sufficient in food production and able to feed millions of people worldwide.
  • $140 billion (and growing) worth of American agricultural products are exported. The U.S. sells more food and fiber than we import, which creates a positive agricultural trade balance.
  • Thirty-six percent of farmers are women, and 56% have at least one female operator. Eleven percent of farmers are veterans, and 25% are beginning farmers. You all are becoming more diverse and bending and breaking stereotypes about what it looks like to be a farmer.

Farming isn’t for the faint of heart, the lazy or the unconcerned. Farming is for the trailblazers, for the pioneers and for the optimists. We know that you don’t need the praise, and frankly, you probably don’t want it – but from me and the millions of other consumers out there, thank you!