Every day of every year, American farmers and ranchers provide the food, feed and fiber that form the foundation of society. Tuesday the society said, “Thank you.”

Founded by the Agriculture Council of America in 1973, National Ag Day celebrates the vital role that the agricultural industry plays in providing safe, abundant food, clothing and countless other products to the United States and the world.

“Every American should understand how the food we eat and the seeming endless stream of goods from agriculture are produced,” said Bill Buckner, president and CEO of the Noble Foundation. “We should value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy. Nothing is more fundamental to our existence than food and the land it springs from.”

The Noble Foundation, which is the nation’s largest nonprofit plant science and agriculture institution, joined numerous other organizations in celebrating the event.

“The Noble Foundation is one of many organizations focused on advancing agriculture worldwide,” Buckner said. “Support for our agricultural producers and the industry as a whole is pivotal because of the looming agriculture crisis.”

Currently, global population stands at 7 billion people with more than 1 billion individuals already classified as “malnourished.” Food riots are becoming more frequent.

Through the course of the next 40 years, the Earth’s total population will bulge to more than 9 billion, meaning that global agricultural producers will need to increase food production by 70 percent to meet demand. At face value, the challenge is daunting enough, but the agriculture crisis is compounded by decreased availability of quality land (due to increased desertification and urban sprawl), decreased water and soil resources, and the need for more efficient fertilizer and pesticide use.

“These are real challenges that will affect us all. We cannot run from them. We must face them together,” Buckner said. “We must increase our commitment to agricultural research and our support to our farmers and ranchers. That is why we celebrate National Ag Day. These men and women are the stewards of the land. For generations, they have provided safe, affordable, abundant food for our families. In the next generation, they will have to do even more.”