By Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, 3rd District of Missouri

Whenever I meet with farmers and ranchers, I remind them that agriculture is an "under the radar" industry. While each and every day more than 300 million Americans rely upon our nation's farmers and ranchers for a safe, abundant, and affordable supply of food, fiber, and fuel, agriculture does not get a lot of mainstream attention. This is likely due to the fact that more and more Americans are multiple generations removed from the farm, and because our nation's agricultural producers do such a great job day in and day out. Unfortunately, many of our farmers and ranchers have grown accustomed to only receiving mainstream attention when something goes wrong and there is a disruption to the supply of agricultural products.

That's why I'm pleased to recognize National Agriculture Week, which will be celebrated March 13th - 19th, and to dedicate this week's bulletin to America's farmers and ranchers.

Why should we celebrate agriculture? Agriculture not only provides the goods we consume on a daily basis, but provides the livelihood for thousands of hard-working individuals in the 3rd Congressional District, and many more across Missouri as a whole. Recent information shows there are more than 17,000 farm operators and the average size of farm is approximately 230 acres in the 3rd District. On a statewide basis, agriculture has long been Missouri's top industry sector and its impact is even more pronounced in our rural communities. As somebody who raised hogs and cattle for many years and also worked as a community bank loan officer in a town of 300, I can tell you with certainty that agriculture is the lynchpin of the economy in rural America. The success or failure of nearly every other small business in a rural town depends on how that area's farmers and ranchers are doing at any given time.

National Agriculture Week provides a platform for recognizing the importance of agriculture and showcasing the hard-work that goes into making the food on your dinner table, the fuel in your car, and the clothing in your closet.

We must continue to remember the key role agriculture plays in maintaining a strong economy. This week also serves as a reminder to appreciate the role this industry plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products for a nation and world that continues to grow. Thankfully, the agricultural industry continues to grow with our nation and the world. Today, each American farmer feeds more than 144 people, which is a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s.

In addition to appreciating agriculture, we must also recognize that there are threats out there to its survival. A couple of years ago the Department of Labor proposed a rule to restrict the ability of children from helping on their neighbors' farms. Fortunately, a groundswell of opposition stopped this proposal in its tracks. On the other hand, nothing so far has stopped the Environmental Protection Agency in its quest to regulate farm ponds, ditches, and streams. If we do not push back against these threats together, there may come a day when we don't have the safe, affordable, and abundant supply of farm products that we rely upon day in and day out. There are many other examples of misguided proposals that would harm agriculture, but most of them are all rooted in the fact that far too many bureaucrats think that food comes from the grocery store.

That's why it is incumbent upon all of us to raise awareness for this "under the radar" industry and to protect it for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. More than 25,000 young Missourians belong to local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters, and they are eager to meet the challenges of feeding and supplying our nation for many years to come, just as generations of farmers and ranchers before them have done so well. So, let's do our part and recognize and promote agriculture, not just during National Agriculture Week, but at every opportunity.

For more information on Congressman Luetkemeyer, visit his official website.


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