On Thanksgiving, thank America’s farmers

James Comer Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner

November 27, 2013

On Thanksgiving Day, many of us gather around a table and give thanks for our families, our friends, our jobs and our health. This year, I hope you add to that list and take a moment to thank a farmer.

The modern American farmer is a miracle of productivity and efficiency. The average American farmer feeds 155 people. American consumers spend, on average, about 10 percent of their income on food, the lowest percentage of any country.

The farmer accomplishes all this at enormous personal risk. The farmer is at the mercy of weather, politics, trade issues and any number of other big-picture factors that can affect the profitability of American agriculture. President John F. Kennedy, who had many good things to say about American farmers, put it well when he said, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”

On the individual level, farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America, and the farmer faces the risk of injury from machinery, livestock and many other hazards. An injury or illness can sideline a farmer for weeks or months, putting the farm family in danger of financial ruin.

The farmer faces all this physical and economic risk for very limited rewards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the farm’s share of the American food dollar is about 15.5 cents.

And still, American farmers carry on, day in and day out, providing us the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world. They do it for the love of the land and the knowledge that they are following a noble calling.

When you bow your heads this Thanksgiving, please join me in saying a prayer for the American farmer.