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November 2001

Remembering the Good at Thanksgiving

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

Thanksgiving is coming none too soon this year for my family and me.

We need the gathering, the presence, the comfort that close friends, family and tradition provides. After a steady diet of media accounts of evil, we will pause and remember all that we have been blessed with, all that we have to be thankful for and consider what we can do to make the world even better. We know that, though our world changed drastically two months ago with the terrorist attacks, America will persevere and continue to flourish, showing the world how respect for individual rights, freedoms and liberties enhance the quality of living for all. These values are so feared and reviled by the tyrannical, fanatical self-appointed few that they are willing to cause a world of hurt to pursue their twisted goals.

Some nations react to the threat of terrorism by radically restricting people's rights. Not here in America – the individual rights of all who oppose terrorism are respected and protected. Speakers are still allowed to freely voice unpopular opinions. Protesters may march in opposition to the cherished values of the majority without fear of being jailed. Transportation of people and goods moves freely throughout our country.

Our government, and the Constitution that has been its foundation for more than 200 years, is doing what citizens expect – to defend, protect and foster the rights and freedoms of the people. Tolerance and compassion are extended to all who denounce terrorism, while those who seek to disrupt civilized activity will suffer.

America, the Admired

Despite the attacks on America, the world still recognizes our country as a model for freedom, be it social, religious, or economic. With open minds and arms, we welcome all to democracy. I am proud that the values so dear to rural Americans are those that define freedom and liberty to those outside our borders. And I am thankful that more and more nations and their peoples are enjoying the rewards of personal effort and initiative that a democratic system promotes and recognizes.

However much some object, the people of the world are more interdependent than ever. Trade increases relentlessly as standards of living improve and people are introduced to foreign innovations and inventions. Our ag exports, already expanding into 2002, will grow more, further increasing the demand for our goods and the prices we receive. Our nation is again exporting $60 billion a year worth of farm goods.

U.S. Agriculture Poised to Prosper

Alternative uses for traditional agricultural crops and the introduction of new plants and animals further brighten agriculture's economic future. There are bright spots in our agriculture that farmers and ranchers can appreciate. Consumers trust our safe, wholesome and affordable products. Government leaders recognize our efforts and our role in national security and do not hesitate to assist when special attention is needed. Despite years of low prices for many commodities and rising input costs, the farm debt-to-asset ratio is relatively low and national average farmland values have risen for four years in a row. Prices for livestock, dairy, poultry, fruit and nut, vegetable and many other commodities are improving, and even grain prices have shown some signs of life lately.

I am very thankful that we have an organization like Farm Bureau to assist farm and ranch families as we work to better our lot. I am honored to work with my friends for my friends. Through Farm Bureau, we declare our beliefs and work to accomplish our collective goals. We overcome challenges and seek new victories – all to strengthen American agriculture and America.

I am thankful. May you have a Happy Thanksgiving.