The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) announced the 2012 National Ag Day written essay and video essay contest winners, Miriam Martin and Diane Gress, respectively.

American Agriculture logo for 2012 essay contestACA called upon ninth- to 12th-grade students nationwide to submit an original written essay of 450 words or an original, two-minute video essay about the importance of agriculture in the U.S. Using this year's theme, "American Agriculture: Feeding the Future, Filling the Gaps." students addressed how the agriculture industry continues to feed a growing population while acknowledging the many ways today's farmers continue to provide a safe, stable food supply and sustain the significant role agriculture plays in everyday life.

The ACA honored Martin, an 11th-grader at Meadville R-IV High School, Meadville, Mo., and Gress, an 11th-grader at Triway High School, Shreve, Ohio, at the 2012 Ag Day event held at the USDA Whitten Building Patio. Martin read her essay aloud and Gress's video essay played to an audience of industry representatives, members of Congress, federal agency representatives, media and others at the Celebration of Agriculture dinner in Washington, D.C. Below is an excerpt from Martin's essay:

"... We have the option of stepping up to the challenge or shying away. My plea is that America cares enough about the fact that someone dies every 2.43 seconds of starvation, to do something about it. This will take the determination to prepare, courage to be proactive, and conviction to persevere. I believe American agriculture has the power to feed the future and fill the gaps."

Gress's video of hand-drawn sketches was shot in a time-lapse style while she voiced-over narration of her insights regarding feeding the future. To hear the audio from the winning video essay, text ESSAY to 21534. Watch her video below:

"Congratulations to Miriam Martin and Diane Gress, who created compelling messages about the importance of American agriculture to our global economy," says Annette Degnan, marketing communications director, CHS Inc., and ACA board member. "CHS encourages all young people to share their agricultural knowledge and stories with peers and consumers. Every voice can make a difference."

Ag Day is a nationally coordinated program that encourages all consumers to talk about agriculture. The Ag Day Essay Contest is sponsored by CHS Inc., The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Farm Progress Companies, National Agri-Marketing Association, and McCormick Company.

This is the 39th anniversary of National Ag Day. The goal of the ACA is to provide a spotlight on agriculture and the food and fiber industry. The ACA not only helps consumers understand how food and fiber products are produced, but also brings people together to celebrate accomplishments in providing safe, abundant and affordable products. For more information, visit