Vice President Mike Pence says American farmers and ranchers do everything from feeding the hungry to serving on the school board, and the United States should be grateful for their contributions.

That was the message he conveyed Tuesday at the Department of Agriculture, where he spoke to commemorate National Ag Day. Pence, who touted his experience as a farm state governor, said farmers and ranchers have an important role to play in society “beyond the enormous and calculated economic impact.”

“I truly believe the greatest contribution that farmers have made throughout the long and storied history of this nation has been to the character of the nation,” Pence said before a crowd of government and agribusiness leaders at USDA’s Whitten Patio.

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Monday declaring March 20, 2018, National Agriculture Day. The official declaration cited agriculture’s economic impact as well as the industry’s innovation and role in American exports.

Pence also discussed export markets during his remarks, making special note of efforts to open China to U.S. beef and Vietnam to American distiller's dried grains.

“We believe we’ve only scratched the surface,” Pence said of agriculture’s export potential. He said the administration is working on “new and better deals” for producers, “deals that will bring a bounty to our farms and ranches and forests at every corner of the world.”

“We’re just getting started,” Pence said. “We’re going to open up the world to America’s agricultural goods.”

Pence touched on a variety of topics during his address, but didn’t offer any new policies or administrative initiatives relating to agriculture. Pausing occasionally for rounds of applause, the vice president addressed a friendly room that has welcomed many of the efforts of the new administration, especially on tax and regulatory reform. He even made a point of displaying his blue and gold tie, which he said was a tribute to the National FFA Organization.

The friendly crowd reacted positively to Pence’s promises of support for American agriculture, something the vice president pledged to continue.

“We’re going to continue fighting every single day for the prosperity and opportunity and future of American agriculture,” he said.

In addition to Pence’s remarks at USDA, the administration will also be present at an ag day event at the National Press Club, where Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is set to deliver remarks.

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