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National Agriculture Day, celebrated this year on March 15, is intended to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture.

Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

The Agriculture Council of America hosts the campaign on a national level. However, the awareness efforts in communities across America are just as influential, if not more, than the broad-scale effort

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.

Each American farmer feeds more than 144 people, a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more — and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.

By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.

Alice finals approaching

Here in Wisconsin, Alice in Dairyland is a one-year paid public relations spokesperson who promotes all things agriculture in the state.

Teyenna Loether, this year's Alice in Dairyland, has been spending a great deal of her time in Dodge County since the finals for the 69th Alice in Dairyland competition will be hosted there.

When she recently appeared in Juneau to talk to a group of 4-Hers, she pointed out that agriculture provides 9,855 jobs and employs about 19 percent of the county's workforce.

Farmers in Dodge County own and manage 402,000 acres, approximately 72 percent of the land base.

In Dodge County, agriculture generates $2.86 billion in economic activity, which is about 34 percent of the county's total economic activity.

It is appropriate that Dodge County volunteers should be interested in hosting the Alice finals and highlighting farms and agribusinesses as agriculture contributes about $761 million to the county's income.

This is the second time Dodge County has hosted the Alice in Dairyland finals. The first time was in 1981.

During the finals week, media and visitors from throughout the state will visit Dodge County communities, touring local farms and businesses.

Activities begin during agriculture week when the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese will host tours of the farm and cheese plant for media and Alice finalists and then introduce this year's candidates.

Then the first week in May, finalists will visit Dodge County, touring area ag businesses and farms. On Friday, May 6, there will be a candidate discussion panel session at the Barn at Windy Pine, Waterloo. The finale banquet will be held at Turner Hall in Watertown on May 7, followed by the Alice Finale Program, a public job interview of sorts, at Watertown High School. At the completion of that program, the new Alice in Dairyland will be announced.

To contribute to the effort or to learn more about the finals, see www.aliceindairyland.com or www.facebook.com/69thAliceFinals.

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