Ag Day

March 12, 2009

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you. And now for today’s commentary— Another year completed. Spring just around the corner and “Ag Day” is the celebration of the week. I hope the whole nation takes note of the remarkable contribution that the American Ag industry makes, to not only the United States, but the whole world. When I was a little boy, my Dad picked 100 bushels of corn by hand in a day. Today, we pick and shell 100 bushels of corn in 7 minutes. I remember the two old horses, Burt and Bill, that pulled our 2-row corn planter. Back and forth, back and forth. Today, a 24-row planter pulled by a big John Deere tractor plants the field in a fraction of the time. In the 1960s, a farmer produced food for 25 people n the U.S. and abroad. Today, one farmer feeds 144 people. In less than 50 years, farm productivity has multiplied more than 5 times. Farmers and ranchers are independent business people feeding our own population and exporting 17 billion dollars worth of product more than we import. Ninety-nine percent of our farms and ranches are family businesses. Twenty-two million people are employed in Ag jobs – production agriculture, farm supplies, processing and marketing, wholesale and retail. Americans spend less on food than any other developed nation in the world. How did we achieve such amazing success? Hard work, yes. But, application of new technology has driven this great industry. The world would be starving if we didn’t have hybrid seeds, precision farming with satellite maps and computers. We have big machines that provide efficiency and productivity. Commercial fertilizer and biotechnology – we couldn’t do without all of this. In the process of ramping up production, we are conserving the soil with no till farming and contour farming. Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists. If I was granted a wish to live my life working in a different business – not agriculture – I wouldn’t even consider it. I am so proud of this industry and its contribution! Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.