We’ve been hearing the percentages “the 99%” and “the 1%” from our president lately, with reference to the economic status of our country’s citizens. I’d like to point out “the other 1%.” These are our farmers, who grow our food.
In 1800, 75% of the U.S. population lived on farms and grew food. By 1900, that rate had dropped to 38%. With innovation, new technology and methods, fertilizers and pesticides, that number has changed radically over the years, so that now, only 1% of our population grows our food. This frees the rest of us up to do anything we want.
Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agriculture Secretary reminds us that the rest of us not involved in growing food owe that select fraction a debt of gratitude for our very freedom. Vilsack is praising the farmers and ranchers who produce the food that fuels the creativity and productivity of 316 million Americans.
Speaking at the annual conference of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Vilsack noted that modern agriculture has grown so efficient that only 1% of the U.S. population in involved in the production of food.
The other 99% of Americans are free to do whatever they want, because they don’t have to worry about there being enough food.
“Every person in this country today has the option to live someplace else and to be someone else, to be a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a construction worker, a business owner – to live anywhere in this country,” he said, “Why? Because we have farmers who are so good at what they do, that we don’t have to worry, and we get to do what we want to do.”
Americans don’t argue about their diet and the origin of the food because they are hungry. It is because they have not experienced hunger and famine that they are free to look at the abundance in their markets and find fault with the methods employed to produce it.
Famished cultures produce little art or literature. Hungry nations don’t fly to the moon, build great cities or conduct groundbreaking science. Where food is scarce, so is liberty.
Farmers and ranchers provide the base on which our country is built. Vilsack is right. They deserve our praise.
Opinion, Capital Press, January 24, 2014