As we gather around our tables this holiday season, America’s farmers and ranchers have good reason to be thankful and to hope. Thanksgiving began on the farm, and I can’t think of a more fitting place for the roots of hope and gratitude to take hold. Yes, we have faced—and continue to face—hard times, but we don’t reserve gratitude only for the easy times.
Even on the tough days, I can’t imagine a better job than being a farmer, taking care of the land that’s been home to my family for three generations. But it’s more than a job: it’s a calling. America’s farmers and ranchers take great pride in answering the call to serve our families, neighbors and nation by growing a wholesome and sustainable food supply.
We don’t take for granted the trust Americans place in us, either. We’re proud of our work, and of how far we have come thanks to technology and modern farming practices. My grandfather couldn’t have imagined the tools farmers have at our fingertips today or envisioned how we have replenished the soil, making our farmland greener than ever.
Agriculture is constantly changing and adapting, thanks to the resilience and dedication of farmers and ranchers. We’re always learning and looking for better and more efficient ways to do things. It’s that spirit of innovation that has sustained American agriculture for centuries, and it’s that same spirit driving us into the future.
But as much as things change on our farms and in our communities, there are some things that I hope never change, like our bonds of family and faith. When times are tough, part of what keeps farm and ranch families going is the support and encouragement we lend one another throughout the year, every year. Our farms and rural communities have banded together and made our friendships and families stronger through every kind of storm, while still hoping for better days.
We also have come together across the agricultural community to make our voices heard on the most pressing issues facing our farms and ranches, from common-sense regulation to new trade deals. We are seeing the fruits of the policies we have planted, but we must all roll up our sleeves to finish this good work. It’s up to each of us to reach out to our lawmakers and make it clear how important trade deals like USMCA are to the rural economy. We need to lend our support to the common-sense regulatory changes we’ve been calling for, like ESA reform and the new Clean Water Rule. I have faith that our labors here in Washington and across the country will yield a full harvest and that together we will strengthen agriculture and our rural communities.
As you join hands with family, friends and neighbors to give thanks and reflect on the year, I pray that you are reminded of the blessings you each hold that don’t change with the weather and the markets. Let’s give thanks for the generations who came before us, for the family we’re surrounded by, and for the Lord who gave us each hearts and hands to serve Him.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.