January 22, 2014

Vilsack Appreciates Farmers’ ContributionTo America 

The California Farm Bureau Federation reported TODAY that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack discussed the vital importance of farmers and ranchers to the American economy and society at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in Texas. Some of his comments are paraphrased here.

Vilsack said agriculture is not as appreciated it ought to be. Many Americans are so far removed from where their food comes from; they may be three, four generations removed. So we need to continue educating our friends in urban and suburb urban centers on what farming is and what it does.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Americans are fortunate to have extraordinary diversity in food, and unlike many people in the world, we don’t have to worry about where our food comes from. We have the capacity within our own borders to produce what we need.

Ninety percent of the population lived in rural America and farmed when USDA was founded, and that 90 percent slowly reduced. So today, it’s 15 percent who live in rural America and less than 1 percent who farm.

What do the other 99 percent do? They are not required to stay on the farm because there is less than 1 percent of America that’s producing so much that we can feed the world and ourselves. Every person in this country today has the option to live someplace else and to be someone else, to be a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a construction worker, a business owner, to live anywhere in this country. Why? Because our farmers are so enterprising, we don’t have to worry, and we get to do what we want to do.

Freedom: That’s what farmers mean to this country. It’s more than food security and paycheck flexibility. It’s the extraordinary opportunity in this country that you can be whatever you want to be, not just simply by dreaming big dreams, but because you’ve got somebody in some rural community on some farm or ranch, in some orchard, producing enough so that you’ve got the nutrition to be whatever you want to be, and that ought to be celebrated. The country ought to be reminded of it, and every farmer in this country should be valued, appreciated and thanked, because we in this country have been extraordinarily blessed by Growers.