Give thanks for the miracle of agriculture

The subject of food always sparks a lively conversation these days. Everyone seems to have a unique perspective on what’s right — and wrong — with our food. No matter how food is produced, someone will have something to say about it: How and where it’s grown and what’s in it.

And that’s fine. The marketplace ultimately sorts that out.

But one thing you never hear is that there’s not enough food. Think about it. Every day, 326 million people in the U.S. eat three meals. That’s 356,970,000,000 meals this year. And last year, and the year before, going back as far as anyone can remember. If hunger has ever existed in the U.S., it was not because of a lack of food production.

Often a discussion about agriculture circles around to the “food system.” We’re not real sure what that is. In our eyes, food is not produced by a “system,” it’s produced by farmers and ranchers, 2.1 million of them, men and women, who get out of bed every morning to work the land and tend the herds and flocks. Together, they cultivate and graze 922 million acres to raise $394 billion worth of crops each year.

The interesting factoid is that the amount of food produced in the U.S. has gone up as the number of farmers and ranchers has gone down.

That’s not a “system.” That’s a miracle.

Yet everyone seems to take the bounty for granted. Most of the public still seems to believe that food comes from the supermarket or that Old MacDonald grew it.

The fact is, most farmers and ranchers devote their lives to producing food and fiber. They use technology, the latest research and innovative products techniques to do it. Most of them grew up on a farm or ranch. They learned farming not only at a land-grant college or university but from their parents and grandparents.

That’s why there’s more to farming than meets the eye. Yes, it’s a business, but it’s also a way of life that has been passed down through generations, all way back before the founding of the republic. In point of fact, farming can be traced back 12,000 years to the beginnings of civilization.

This week Americans celebrated with a day of thanks. For family, for shelter and for the many blessings we enjoy in this great nation.

We all have much for which to be grateful. Among them is the fact that we in the U.S. are the beneficiaries of a miracle. We live in a land of plenty, and we have farmers and ranchers to thank for it.

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