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November 2011

A Time for Giving Thanks

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

Thanksgiving has always been a special time for me and my family, whereby we take a day from our hectic lives to give thanks for not only the bounty of food on our table, but for the good fortune and security in which that food was provided.

When I think of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but conjure up Norman Rockwell’s famous painting “Freedom from Want.” If a picture is worth a thousand words, Rockwell’s painting tells an inspiring story of a traditional American Thanksgiving celebration: family, security, joy and America’s great harvest.

Let Freedom Reign

Norman Rockwell's “Freedom from Want” painting was first published as part of a series in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943 during the height of World War II. Inspired to paint ‘The Four Freedoms’ series after hearing President Franklin Roosevelt's speech of the same name, Rockwell invoked a sentiment in all Americans that has remained for nearly 70 years. We cherish our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want.

American farmers take these rights very seriously, especially when it comes to providing food for our nation. Americans spend the least amount of disposable income on food than in any other country. Compared to many other countries where nourishment has flat lined and food is hard to come by, where farmers are dictated what to grow and who to sell to – leaving much of their population with empty stomachs, our food security is a reason for all Americans to be thankful. One look at most grocery shelves in the U.S. shows just how blessed Americans are.

America’s Cornucopia

In some ways, things have changed little since 1943; we have another war, another recession. Yet, while American farmers still embody that same patriotic and entrepreneurial spirit that their fathers and grandfathers had before them, our industry has changed greatly to keep up with the times.

In the 1940s, a U.S. farmer had the ability to feed only 19 people per year. Today, an American farmer grows enough food to feed 154 people every year. Because of modern technology, farmers are providing safer and more nutritious food for Americans. We are producing a greater variety of food so that no Thanksgiving table is incomplete, whether you favor traditional turkey or something more exotic.

So, as you sit down with your family to Thanksgiving dinner this year, please join me in giving thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us. Let us all celebrate our many freedoms, and in particular, our freedom from want.

Pass the cranberry sauce….