News from the Secretary

News from the Secretary by Larry Gabriel S.D. Secretary of Agriculture Do you know anyone who is "just a farmer?"

An older gentleman was at a social affair.�People were introducing themselves to each other.�This man said, "I'm just a dirt farmer."

That troubles me.�Don't get me wrong.�Humility is wonderful thing.�What bothers me is that some of our farmers have a poor public image and act as if there is something demeaning about the profession.

They should be proud of what they do and who they are. �I can't think of a profession that deserves more honor than this handful of people who feed half the civilized world.

Thanks to our farmers, we don't have to worry each day about where to find enough food.�That's not true in all parts of the world. Indirectly we owe all our quality of life to the proficiency of our farmers, because hungry people don't have time for other things.

Besides the fact that the rest of the people depend upon them, farming is a unique business in many ways. First of all, not everyone can do it.

In the old days maybe just about anyone could be a farmer. �That's not so any longer.�A new tractor is likely to have more instrumentation and electronics than an airplane did not too long ago.�We have plenty of respect for pilots.

The farmer is often skilled in welding, electrical wiring, carpentry, animal husbandry, a little soil science, some mechanical engineering, inventing new solutions, child rearing, baseball, hunting, fishing and coffee shop talking.

However, most important of all, he is skilled in making things grow straight and tall, whether they are crops or kids.

It has been said that the people of the Midwest and Great Plains are the backbone of the American society.�I think that's probably true.

This is where society learns about the value of hard work, honesty, independent thinking, strong families, and the real ability to appreciate the natural gifts of productive soil, clean water and healthy animals.

They say, "Only God can make a tree." That may be equally true of a field of wheat. �Both are just another renewable resource.�The difference is, farmers help with the wheat field.

I think we are the weavers of the moral fabric that holds our nation together.�I can't think of anyone who should be more proud of it than our farmers and ranchers.

In many parts of the world, farmers are at the bottom of the social ladder, because they are the least educated and largely grow food for their own use.�That's not true here.

Anyone should be proud to say, "I am an American farmer."

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