November 19, 2018

Weekly Column: An Idaho Thanksgiving

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals, there is a good chance the hard work of Idaho farmers went into a majority of our meal.  Meals at Thanksgiving are as varied as the people who celebrate it, but there are some iconic dishes with strong Idaho connections.

Mashed potatoes:  Idaho leads the nation in the production of potatoes.

Stuffing and rolls:  Idaho is ranked in the top ten of Spring Wheat and Winter Wheat producing states.

Milk:  If we drink milk with our meal, add milk to the mashed potatoes and gravy, or if we add cheese to sandwiches we make from leftovers, Idaho is ranked fourth among states in milk production and third among states in cheese production.

Vegetables:  Idaho is ranked in the top five among states in the production of multiple pea varieties.  Idahoans grow 70 percent of the world’s hybrid temperate sweet corn seed, and Idaho’s vegetable seed production includes carrot, onion, turnip, lettuce and many more.  

Pie:  Idaho is ranked ninth in the nation in peach production, tenth in apple production, second in sugarbeet production and 13th in honey production.

Soup:  If we turn some of the leftovers into soup, Idaho is ranked sixth in dry bean production and fourth in the production of lentils.

Other main course options:  If we opt to have beef, fish or lamb as our main course instead of turkey, Idaho is ranked 13th in the production of cattle and calves.  And, Idaho is the number one trout producing state in the nation and ranked seventh among sheep and lamb producing states.

These statistics come from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA).  We can go on extrapolating Idaho’s connections to our meal and leftovers all the way to the mint used to flavor our toothpaste after our meal.  After all, Idaho is ranked first in the production of peppermint oil.  But, the main point is we are blessed here in Idaho with abundant homegrown food.  This list does not come close to including all of the agricultural products produced here in our great state, as ISDA reports that Idaho’s nearly 25,000 farms and ranches produce more than 185 different commodities.  

Additionally, Idaho growers produce far more than what can be consumed here in the state.  So, Idaho farmers and ranchers are also contributing to Thanksgiving meals across our nation and feeding the world.  The American Farm Bureau reports, “One U.S. farm feeds 165 people annually in the U.S. and abroad.”  The Council For Agricultural Science and Technology reports, “On an annual basis, the United States produces more food than France, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, Japan, and Australia combined.” 

Many are grappling with how the world will meet the food needs of an increasing world population, while there are growing demands on water, land and other challenges.  It is certain U.S. producers are a major part of the solution, and they are essentially being asked to do more with less.  I welcomed the opportunity to support the 2018 Farm Bill the Senate passed by an overwhelmingly, bipartisan vote of 86-11 earlier this year.  This legislation would maintain support for American agricultural production.  Enactment of sound federal farm policy along with the progress the 115th Congress and this Administration has made in improving federal tax policy and removing federal red tape impeding American ingenuity and growth will improve the environment for production, and these changes are helping set our nation on a sound course to meet food needs.

No matter where you are or what is on your plate this Thanksgiving, may you have a wonderful Idaho Thanksgiving.

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