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Food, Independence & Optimism

Zippy Duvall


photo credit: AFBF Photo, Morgan Walker

I love celebrating the Fourth of July with my family every year. There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned cookout and fellowship with loved ones. It’s also a good time to reflect on the great freedom we enjoy in our nation. I am thankful and humbled when I think of the countless men and women who have defended that freedom over the years. As Americans, we each have a role to play in protecting our freedom and independence, from casting our vote at the ballot box to serving in our local communities. And farmers are honored to do our part in serving our great country by growing the food all Americans depend on.

Now, celebrating our great nation doesn’t mean we ignore the hard times we face together. In the last few years especially, we have faced a great many challenges across the country and rural America. But even in tough times, I firmly believe we can find blessings to give thanks for. After all, our nation was founded with optimism, in the hope that we can achieve great things together.

One of the challenges our nation continues to feel is the sting of inflation, and the rising cost of food can be tough for many families, farm families included. The American Farm Bureau’s latest Summer Cookout Survey shows that the overall cost for the standard July 4th cookout is down a bit (3%) from last year’s record high, yet still 14% higher than prices were just two years ago. But even with the overall increased costs and ongoing concerns around food prices, America still has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world. As of 2021, the average American household spent 10.3% of their income on food. In some countries, food costs can be more than 40% or even 50% of household income.

Even with the overall increased costs and ongoing concerns around food prices, America still has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world.

So, how have we kept those grocery bills relatively low—even with rising costs and the strain on the supply chain? That’s thanks to the hard work of farmers and the support they receive from the farm bill to manage risk and advance innovation.

Farm bill programs are critical to our national security and independence. Tools for risk management, like crop insurance, help farmers hang on through severe weather and market downturns, so that we can keep farming from one season to the next. That doesn’t mean farmers don’t feel the effects of inflation right now like everyone else. But it does mean that more family farms can stay in business and continue our mission of keeping our food supply secure, even as the cost of land, supplies and equipment increases.

The farm bill’s impact goes well beyond the farm gate. It’s the most important piece of legislation we have for our food supply, too. Through the farm bill, we advance critical research to keep agriculture on the cutting edge, protect our natural resources through conservation programs, improve the well-being of rural Americans, and provide food security for low-income families. As we like to say at Farm Bureau, this bill could, more accurately, be called a food and farm bill because it matters for all Americans.

As we all celebrate this July 4th holiday, we encourage members of Congress to consider the contributions of farmers and ranchers in protecting our freedom. A country that cannot feed its people isn’t free. And we ask Congress to protect the security and independence of farmers and ranchers by helping us ensure a safe and abundant food supply for all Americans through passage of a 2023 farm bill.