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Agriculture touches all of our lives

by Baxter Black, Herald and News 11/24/11


Not everyone has a car, owns a home, carries a cell phone, can swim, knows the 18th president and can hum “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.”


But everyone in this country, rich or homeless, conservative, liberal, gray, green, black, white, brown or yellow eats what we in agriculture produce; everyone, no exceptions.


Do those of you who farm and ranch think about the lives you touch? Steve Jobs invented Apple computers, Oprah Winfrey had a talk show that reached 7.4 million people five days a week, J.K. Rowling sold 450 million Harry Potter books, and 111 million watched Superbowl XLV … talk about reaching out! But everyday, every person eats something you produce. Your contribution to their well-being exceeds Hollywood, the Nobel Prize or their psychiatrist. The public’s dependence on your ability to keep them fed is deeper than their need to text, jog, work, play golf, or go to school. You are more essential to their lives than their bookie, their broker, their drug dealer, their teacher, their boss, or even … their best friend!


This week we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s still a real holiday, you can tell because most of the work force gets the day off! I think of it as a time when we thank God for the blessings we have been given. Usually the Thanksgiving table is covered with food. Food, that we in agriculture produced. Even the needy in soup kitchens, home alone-bachelors, single mothers, on-duty soldiers, and orbiting astronauts will eat something we grew; a piece of ham, canned peas, a drumstick, a Happy Meal, or pumpkin pie. Regardless of what is on their plate it started in some farmer’s pasture or plowed field.


I don’t mean to be boastful. I don’t even expect the average urban Thanksgiving diner to remember the farmer’s contribution to their day. Many praises will fall upon the one who cooked the meal. That is due, but without mentioning the farmers who grow it is like praising the painter of the bridge while the man who designed and constructed it, stands in the shadows.


It is common to hear that farming is a “Noble Calling.” That is flattering but its importance is much more profound. I agree that what we who work the land do, is noble, but more, it is as vital to their lives as air and water.


What they eat is the gift of our labors and somewhere down deep as they sit down to Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, they might conjure up a picture of a farmer leaning on a hoe, or a cowboy on a horse. That thought might just be the connection that helps them understand where their food comes from … real people.


Baxter Black is a large animal veterinarian, cowboy poet and radio commentator.

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