As we prepare to join our family and friends around the table tomorrow to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I expect many of you, like my family, will take a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for this year. Of course, some years are a little easier than others to count our blessings, but giving thanks is just as important, if not more, in the tough times, too. And times surely have been tough for many farm families across the country this year—from natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires to the down farm economy. My hope and prayer for each of you and your families this Thanksgiving is that you will remember the good gifts you have received and all that we still have to be thankful for. Here are a few of the things I am giving thanks for this year.
- Family – Counting my blessings always begins with my family. Bonnie and I have been truly blessed with our four children, and are thankful to see our family grow as they each start their own families—and give us more grandchildren. The best part of any holiday is getting to celebrate with all of them…and to have some extra hands to help with chores before dinner.
- Farmers and Ranchers – I am grateful for all of you and the hard work you do every day to produce food for our nation and to keep agriculture sustainable for generations to come.
- Farm Bureau – I am proud of the work we do together from the county to the state to the national level, and I can’t wait to celebrate our centennial in New Orleans in just a couple months with you all!
- The Opportunity to Serve – I am humbled and grateful every day for the opportunity to serve you all as your American Farm Bureau president. I can’t think of a better job than working with all of you to help protect and promote the good work of U.S. agriculture.
- Consumers – Our jobs wouldn’t be possible without consumers here and around the world. I’m thankful for consumers who are becoming more interested in how their food gets to their plate.
- Our Freedom – There’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be living and farming than right here in the U.S. I am thankful for the freedoms we enjoy in our nation and for the brave men and women who defend those freedoms and often spend holidays like this one far from their loved ones, to keep us all safe.
- Our Agricultural Heritage – Our country was founded with a rich agricultural heritage, and I am grateful to be a part of that. I can think of no better place to grow up, and raise a family, than rural America.
- My Family Farm – I give thanks each season for the chance to witness new life and growth on my farm, and to work the same land as my daddy and grand-daddy before me.
- The Holiday Season – Thanksgiving is the perfect start to this special time of year when we can slow down, thank God for our blessings, celebrate the harvest, (in the Duvall household) watch a little college football and spend time with people we love.
- My Faith – I am beginning and ending this list with the two most important things to me: my family and my faith. One of King David’s Psalms of praise says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” May this Thanksgiving find you and your family knowing the goodness of the Lord, and the joy of fellowshipping with friends and family.
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.