Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies; For amber waves of grain; For purple mountain majesties; Above the fruited plain!
The 1895 lyrics for “America the Beautiful” start out by celebrating the abundance of food for our nation. With less than two percent of our population producing food, most Americans don’t think about where their next meal will come from. We’ve been extremely lucky here in the U.S. when you consider how some nations have struggled to provide food for their population.
Today, a U.S. farm feeds 166 people annually, according to the American Farm Bureau. So, while 165 people are working to build everything from cars to computers, they don’t have to worry about what they need to grow in order to keep themselves and their family fed.
Dr. Gary Sides has said without agriculture, there would be no culture and this is certainly true. In some areas of the world people still spend a good portion of their day working for their next meal.
Without our farmers and ranchers our tomorrow would be taken up with efforts to grow enough food rather than efforts to allow us to do something else. It’s highly unlikely we would be able to develop the infrastructure to develop a car, much less a computer without the amazing productivity of our farmers and ranchers.
We’ve indeed been blessed here in the U.S. because we have an agricultural system providing food not only for the U.S., but for others around the world too. The wherewithal to do this has been shared all around the world and today, famines which were ever present in our ancestors’ pasts are, if they occur, now a function of geopolitical forces. Lack of food is no longer the problem, political forces which prevent food from getting to people is the problem.
Wyoming ranchers and farmers are proud to be able to raise food contributing to this effort. We have a large support network from the meat processor to the trucker, and finally the grocery store employee who takes the beef we produce on our rangelands and pasturelands and gets it to our urban compatriots. Wyoming’s ranchers and farmers grow cattle, sheep, sugarbeets, dry edible beans, corn, malt barley and hay among other commodities. The total economic impact to Wyoming from food and agriculture amounts to $12.4 billion getting funneled into our local communities. While the farmer or rancher might be up until 10:30 p.m. getting the harvest in or planting the crops, they can be up until 10:30 p.m. the next night at a school board meeting or a church function helping to pave the way to tomorrow for their family and others.
Working together with family and their neighbors, they are indeed working to grow a climate for tomorrow.
Ken Hamilton is the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation executive vice president.
The WyFB Mission: To represent the voices of Wyoming farmers and ranchers through grassroots policy development while focusing on protecting private property rights, strengthening agriculture and supporting farm and ranch families through advocacy, education and leadership development.