fb - voice of agriculture
July 2005

Celebrating Agriculture’s Contribution to American Independence

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

When George Washington took command of the Continental forces in 1775, many of the recruits were farmers, not trained or professional soldiers. Nevertheless they went into battle to fight for a cause that ran deep in their blood—independence of this great nation.

Today, U.S. farmers and ranchers are no different. They are on the front lines everyday, whether fighting for free trade and energy independence or feeding America’s hungry. They are also serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those left behind are producing food that feeds our troops.

Whether they are on the battlefield, the wheat field or in the halls of Congress, American farmers contribute a great deal to this country’s independence.

Ensuring Food Stability

One of U.S. agriculture’s greatest contributions toward American independence is food stability. Americans have the most affordable food supply in the world. We spend a mere 10 percent of our disposable incomes on food, compared to countries like India, where that number increases to a staggering 51 percent. Further, each U.S. farmer produces enough food to feed 144 people.

Most of us don’t have to worry about from where our next meal is coming. We take for granted that our grocery store shelves are always stocked.

The same can be said for pharmaceuticals and many other healthcare products, the raw materials for which are produced in part by America’s farmers. When our children are sick we can put our minds to rest knowing that appropriate medication is within reach.

As for those Americans who’ve fallen on hard times, U.S. farmers are working tirelessly to help them by donating food from our farms, money from our pockets and time from our demanding schedules. As long as there are American farmers, we will strive to ensure that no one goes hungry in this great land.

A Cause for Celebration

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “The American farmer remains our ideal of self-reliance…the source from which the reservoirs of the nation’s strength are constantly renewed.” I believe this sentiment holds just as true today as it did those many years ago.

Take ethanol and biodiesel for example. Renewable fuels contribute to the stability of the rural economy and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. With an 8-billion-gallon renewable fuels standard recently included in energy legislation, it is clear that home-grown, renewable fuels are playing a major role in America's energy independence. Now, we need to marshal our forces to deliver that bill to President Bush.

We have a lot to be thankful for and are very fortunate to call ourselves Americans. Our independence should be a cause for celebration everyday, not only on July 4. I know that I’m proud to call this great nation my home. Moreover, I am pleased to be an American farmer.

Have a happy and blessed Independence Day.