And today, I say thank you, America’s farmers and ranchers. You are the backbone of this nation.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to pursue a career that I find both rewarding and stimulating. And thank you for doing that for more than 98 percent of the people in this country who can fulfill their dreams as artists, doctors, engineers, teachers, plumbers, truck drivers and whatever else they do to earn a living.
Because of you, we are not required to fill our days hunting and gathering food, securing fiber or skins to protect ourselves from the elements—to say nothing of preserving our modesty. Because of you, we have food and clothing near at hand and, though we often complain about how much it costs these days just to get by, when we put a pencil to it—well a calculator—we see that you provide us the best bargain ever for the things we eat.
And we have so much. Our grocery store shelves are packed with every food imaginable. The produce section is a riot of color—reds, greens, oranges, browns, yellows—every color of the rainbow and then a few more. Fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables, plentiful, ready to bag up and take home.
And fresh meats, dairy, bread, frozen peas, canned tomatoes, juice of all kinds offer so many choices. We are fortunate.
And most of us, most likely, never give a second thought to where all this bounty comes from. It’s just there, where it always is, where it’s supposed to be whenever we want it. We don’t think about the cold day you put those carrot seeds into the ground or the sweltering hours you spent moving irrigation pipe to water those green beans. We don’t think about the hail storm that wiped out the cotton field requiring that you replant so we have these jeans to putter around in.
It’s beyond our reckoning most of the time to think about all the water you had to haul across acres of parched pasture to keep those cattle alive so we could grill burgers Saturday evening. We don’t think about the early mornings and late evenings you spent milking those dairy cows, just to get up the next morning and do it again—seven days a week, every day of the year.
Sad to say, we don’t pay much attention to you. We don’t offer you the appreciation you deserve. Actually, we pretty much take you for granted. We assume you’ll plant the corn, harvest the beans, gather the rice and bale the cotton. You always have.
But today, I say thank you. It’s March 25, one day of the year set aside as National Agriculture Day. It’s not enough. But it’s something. I am blessed to count many of you as friends. I am privileged to get to tell your stories. And today, I say thank you, America’s farmers and ranchers. You are the backbone of this nation.