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U.S. National Debt:

Thanking American Farmers

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

"Improving agricultural productivity has been the world's primary safeguard against a recurring Malthusian crisis--where the needs of a growing population outstrip the ability of man and resources to supply food.  Over the past 50 years, global gross agricultural output has more than tripled in volume, and productivity growth in agriculture has enabled food to become more abundant and cheaper…If productivity growth slows, then more resources--land, labor, energy, fertilizers, and other inputs--would be needed to meet rising demand, raising the cost of food."  This observation was included in a recent reportby U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service researchers about the expected productivity growth in global agriculture.

Farmers are working hard every day to meet this rising food demand.  Each Thanksgiving, as we prepare meals to celebrate our blessings, I count American farmers among our many blessings.  Unfortunately, an estimated 50 million Americans lack enough income and other resources for food, and many Idahoans, food banks, churches and other organizations are among those working to address this problem.  However, in general, Americans spend a lower percentage of our income on food than anywhere else in the world. 

This is a benefit that cannot be taken for granted.  Globally, more than 800 million people are estimated to be hungry.  Additionally, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the world's population exceeds 7 billion, and is expected to reach8 billion in 2026 and 9 billion in 2042. Population growth puts increased demands on agricultural production to meet the needs of families around the world. 

Many of us are shielded from the hard work of food production, because of the hard work of American farmers.  American farmers are overcoming challenges-increased regulation and paperwork requirements, tax uncertainty, high fuel and other input costs, limited water, emerging  pests and plant and animal diseases to name a few.  They are overcoming these challenges and getting high-quality, affordable food to our tables and tables around the world this Thanksgiving and every day. 

We have an interest in staying at the forefront of investment in agricultural technologies and research, ensuring the wise use of water and other limited resources, expanding the use of conservation practices that enable long-term agricultural production, advancing economic reforms that put American producers on better footing, reducing unnecessary regulatory burden and decreasing foreign trade barriers that limit access to reaching consumers around the world.  Making progress on these objectives can help ensure that America's farmers are best equipped to help meet increasing food demands in the years ahead.   

In 1789, when proclaiming the first national Thanksgiving Day under the Constitution, President George Washington recognized the request from both Houses of Congress "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God…" One of the great favors we have as a nation is an abundance of affordable, quality food.  This Thanksgiving, I will again be thankful for the American farmer and the work they do every day to feed American families and families around the world.

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Word Count:  516