Op-Ed

Giving Thanks for America's Bounty

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Washington, November 26, 2015 | comments
As we gather this Thanksgiving with our families and friends to celebrate our many blessings, it is fitting to also recognize the farmers and ranchers who provided the food on our tables. Thanksgiving is a cherished time for most American families, especially those who make their living off the land. Throughout our nation’s history, our ancestors have gathered during the harvest season to give thanks and celebrate the harvest that would see them through the coming year. They understood the promise of a seed sewn in the spring would bring a bounty of food in the fall.

Much has changed for our modern day farmers. In our nation’s early days, nearly everyone produced food. Today, because of advances in technology and the development of more efficient farming methods, about 90 percent of the food and fiber we produce comes from just under 250,000 farms. Despite these changes, 97 percent of American farms remain family owned and operated, and their goal has always remained the same: It’s about feeding and clothing our growing country and world. That’s why today we celebrate the year-round commitment of American farmers. We must never forget that there is no food without the farmer.

Even though the U.S. food and agriculture industry is comprised of 2.2 million farms, many Americans have never stepped foot on a farm and are often unaware how their food actually arrived on the grocery store shelf. In fact, the average American citizen is three generations removed from production agriculture. Bridging this growing divide between rural and urban communities is important to me and my colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee, which is why we are doing our best to educate and engage the public on issues. These issues affect every American on a daily basis, from the price and availability of groceries to the ripple effects of the rural economy.

Our nation’s producers are the most innovative and productive in the world, providing us with the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world. Because of this, three-quarters of a century have passed since we experienced widespread hunger during the Great Depression, and on average, we spend less of our disposable income on food than just about any other country.

As we approach this holiday season, we should remain mindful of the needs that do exist both here in America and around the globe. Many families in our own communities have fallen on tough financial times and need assistance through food programs and local efforts like food banks, churches, or soup kitchens. There are few causes more worthy of our time than to help a neighbor in need, so this Thanksgiving, I encourage you and your families to consider giving back by serving others. Somehow it always feels like we’re the ones who receive the blessing when we give our time in service to others.

Finally, I encourage us all to thank the farmers and ranchers who take on significant financial risks and make sacrifices year after year to feed this nation, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. It has been an honor to serve as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee this Congress, and I am dedicated to providing our producers with the tools necessary to continue feeding, fueling, and clothing our nation.
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