Farmers and ranchers are a unique group of men and women. They work selflessly to feed, clothe and provide for their families as well as others. In 1960, the average American farmer fed roughly 25 people. Today, this number tops 150.
As USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said at the 2015 Pork Industry Forum held earlier this month in San Antonio, "The rest of your fellow Americans rely on you, in agriculture, to put quality, safe and affordable food on their tables so that they may go to work to pursue other careers and professions."
None of this would be possible without an undeniable passion and dedication, yet most Americans are so removed from agriculture they can’t fathom life beyond cul-de-sacs and paved roads. To them, careers begin shortly after college and end at retirement.
But farmers and ranchers know better. Agriculture isn’t just a 24 hour, seven-day-a-week job. It’s a career that starts at birth and ends at death.
Years ago, as my grandfather was nearing the end of his fight with Parkinson’s disease, he had one simple request: to see his farm. A lifelong farmer who raised everything from corn to cattle, he struggled as he shuffled slowly to the edge of his field. He quietly ran his weathered, calloused hands through the wheat kernels and said, “One more week,” indicating it was still too early to begin harvesting this season’s crop. Unfortunately, his season of life ended before harvest could begin.
He, like others who came before him and those who will come after, devoted his life to ensuring there would always be food to eat, clothes to wear and fuel to use. Americans are indebted to the agricultural industry, whether they realize it or not.
So celebrate agriculture - today is your day! Take a bow...you’ve earned it.