It’s time to celebrate our nation’s birthday, and for many of us that means firing up the grill. There’s nowhere else I’d rather have a good old fashioned Fourth of July barbecue than on the farm with my family.
America’s farmers and ranchers love our country, and we’re proud to grow and raise the bounty we bring to the table for this celebration that goes from sea to shining sea. Most importantly, all the picnics and barbecues tomorrow will give each of us a time to enjoy not only good food but fellowship with our friends, families and neighbors.
I hope each of you takes a moment in all the day’s festivities to reflect on the freedoms you are thankful for—I’m betting we could all list more than a few. Whether in times of great uncertainty or great blessing, I cannot think of another country I’d rather call home.
I’m grateful for the freedom we have to farm our land, raise our animals, care for our families, help our neighbors and worship our great God. Those freedoms were not easily won, and they still need to be fiercely protected. Thanks to the many brave men and women of our nation’s military—many of whom grew up on our nation’s farms and ranches—we can celebrate these freedoms on July 4 and the remaining 364 days of the year.
These freedoms also need to be protected by each one of us as citizens of this great land. Benjamin Franklin famously replied to a question he received from a lady as he was leaving the Constitutional Convention. She asked him, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” And he replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Our Founding Fathers knew how important it would be for everyone—not just lawmakers—to protect America’s liberty. It’s up to all of us to “keep” the liberties we have been given and to be on alert if they are at risk. This is exactly what so many of you do when you speak up on issues affecting your farms and ranches. This is what you’re doing when you call out regulations that would give control of your farm over to the federal government; when you petition for tax reform that frees you to manage your businesses; when you defend tools and innovation that improve our environment and help you farm better; and when you get up each day to do the work God has called you to. I am honored to come alongside you as a farmer and as your American Farm Bureau president as we all work together to keep our country strong and free.
May you and your family have a safe and blessed Fourth of July!
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. You can follow him on Twitter @ZippyDuvall.