In honor of the hard work and commitment of America's producers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today recognized the nation's farmers and ranchers — as part of National Ag Day — for the part they play in providing food, fiber and fuel to billions of people worldwide.

"Agriculture touches everyone's life in one way or another, yet our farmers and ranchers can often be overlooked for the important work they do, and we should all take time during this day to thank producers for a job well done," said Vilsack.

National Ag Day is an event set aside to celebrate the contributions of agriculture in our everyday lives. It encourages Americans to learn more about how their food, fiber and fuel products are produced, value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy and appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

Referring to the role American agriculture plays in protecting against prolonged consequences of natural disasters around the world, Vilsack said that U.S. agriculture is always available to feed and clothe its people. Agriculture accounts for one-fifth of the nation's economic activity, placing farmers and ranchers at the forefront of the nation's security.

USDA's Farm Service Agency works with agricultural producers and supports them through various farm programs and farm loans available through offices across the United States. These programs and services provide an important "safety net" needed to continue nourishing the country while preserving its natural resources.

"We focus on the programs and policies that achieve the greatest benefit for our customers — the farmers and ranchers," said Acting Farm Service Administrator Val Dolcini. "Although they face many challenges, these challenges have taught us to appreciate the innovation, dedication and work ethic of the customers we serve."

USDA encourages everyone to take time during National Agriculture Day to learn more about agriculture and how it impacts our lives by visiting the Farm Service Agency website at www.fsa.usda.gov. Also during National Ag Day, support local farmers and ranchers by going to a farmers market or by purchasing locally-grown fruits and vegetables. By supporting our farmers and ranchers, we are supporting the backbone of America.