WASHINGTON, March 26, 2014 – In an unusual display of camaraderie, Democrats, Republicans and government officials joined together yesterday to honor the legacy of Norman Borlaug, known as the “father of the Green Revolution,” during the annual celebration of National Ag Day.
The day was marked by a number of events, including the installation of Borlaug’s statue in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Borlaug’s discovery of high-yield, disease resistant “miracle wheat” is credited with saving an estimated billion people around the world from hunger and starvation. He is the only American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science. Borlaug, who died in 2009, would have celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday.
The State of Iowa commissioned the seven-foot bronze statue now displayed in the National Statuary Hall Collection to honor the geneticist and plant pathologist born in Cresco, Iowa. In attendance at the dedication were member of the state’s congressional delegation: Iowa Governor Terry Branstad; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa; and Kenneth Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize Foundation who chaired the Borlaug Statue Committee.
“Norman Borlaug’s work fed the world, and – like all the greats – so did his character,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as he opened the dedication ceremony. “And now, having embodied the finest qualities of his state, he is called to represent it in the United States Capitol.
In other National Ag Day events, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) hosted a Food Dialogues session with several young farmers and ranchers, with Agri-Pulse President Sara Wyant as moderator.
Panel participants discussed several issues surrounding the transition of American agriculture to a younger generation, including the impact of federal policy.
Will Gilmer, a third generation dairy farmer from Lamar County, Ala., said he wants simple policy that helps him continue his business, particularly when it comes to government regulations. “There are so many different individual aspects of policy that touch our businesses and it can make it difficult, because as soon as we plan or have an expectation of the rules of the game, one area may change,” he said.
Seth Pratt, a fifth generation rancher and former national officer with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) from Blackfoot, Idaho, cautioned lawmakers in Washington to pay more attention to their constituents. “What takes for something to pass this city is different than what it takes on the ground,” he said.
Meanwhile, at USDA’s South Building on the National Mall, Norman Borlaug’s granddaughter, Julie Borlaug, hosted a symposium focused on motivating young people to enter the fight against hunger – a cause, she said, that motivated Dr. Borlaug.
The event included remarks from agricultural students; Julie Howard, the chief scientist in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security; Monsanto official and 2013 World Food Prize laureate Robb Fraley, and USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden
“How do you capture that (Dr. Borlaug’s) energy? How do you keep it going?” Harden asked. “We want to connect with young people – we want to connect to the future.”
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