USDA Guest Editorial: Thank Our Farmers & Ranchers

September 23, 2010 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

Montana grocery stores and supermarkets are amazing places.

The fresh produce, meat and dairy products on our shelves are astounding. The cereals and breads are so plentiful and various you wonder if anyone has ever taken the time to try them all. The soups, jams, and jellies stretch aisle after aisle.

Nowhere in the world is such a wide array of food available to everyday consumers like it is in America. It’s important to consider the farmers, ranchers and growers who work every day to produce this bounty of food, fiber and fuel we use every day.

Farmers and ranchers are skilled businesspeople who work sunrise to sunset most days of the year – week days, weekends, even holidays. They take care of the soil and the plants that spring from it; carefully tend to their livestock; operate tractors and combines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; and still find time to manage their business spreadsheets with the patience of an accountant.

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; nearly 30,000 of them are in Montana. Most of them are 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, if not most, farmers and ranchers work other jobs to supplement their incomes.

So what does this hard work of our farmers, ranchers and growers mean to you? In short, a lot.

It means that as an American consumer, you pay the smallest percent 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 farmer’s 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 their role in making America a truly great nation.

(Bruce Nelson, a fourth-generation Montanan and wheat farmer, was appointed by the Obama administration as state executive director of the Montana Farm Service Agency in July 2009 and previously served in this position from 1993-2000. He can be reached at 406.587.6872 or

Source: Cattle Network


Entry filed under: Featured Articles.

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