By LYNN VOIGT
For the Capital Press
Take a look around the next time you're in the supermarket. Our supermarkets are amazing places.
The fresh produce, meat and dairy products on our shelves are so abundant. The cereals and breads are so plentiful, and the variety is so broad, you wonder if anyone has the time to try them all. The soups, jams, and jellies go on aisle after aisle.
Nowhere in the world is such a wide array of food available to everyday consumers like you and me. Given the abundance we enjoy so much, it's important to consider the farmers, ranchers and growers who work every day to produce this bounty of food, fiber and fuel that we use every day. ...
Like you, they earn an income so they can send their children to college, pay the mortgage and put a variety of food on their tables.
There are approximately 2.2 million productive farms in the United States. Just like the 38,500 farms in Oregon, most of them are small, family-run operations that produce less than $250,000 of annual revenue -- and have expenses that can consume as much as 90 percent of that revenue. Many farmers and ranchers work other jobs to supplement their incomes and make ends meet. In Oregon, for example, 54 percent of the state's principal farm and ranch operators report something other than farming as their primary occupation.
So what does this hard work of our farmers, ranchers and growers mean to you? It means a lot.
It means that as a consumer, you pay a smaller share of your income for food than consumers in any other nation. It means that the quality of your food and your clothing will always be of the highest grade possible. And it means that in the future, the energy that powers our cars and towns can be rooted in our forests and fields, not in foreign oil fields.
So this week, as you visit the grocery store, a restaurant or your local farmers' market, I am asking that you join my colleagues and me at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in thanking America's farmers and ranchers. I'm certain they will be grateful to know that their fellow citizens appreciate the role they play in helping feed the world, and making America a truly great nation.
Lynn Voigt is the state executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Oregon. To learn more about the agency and its programs of assistance for farmers and ranchers, visit the agency's website, www.fsa.usda.gov .