Past Speakers of the: LANDON LECTURES

Landon Lecture by Tom Vilsack

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
April 10, 2012

It's always tough when someone stands up and gives you a nice warm welcome like that. Your first reaction is to walk off stage and quit while you're ahead. President, thank you very much for those kind remarks, and I really do feel honored and privileged to be here today. There are a couple of folks I want to acknowledge, the President has done a nice job acknowledging some of the elected officials here, but I'd like to, if I might, just say a special word about, I think it's fair to say I can call my friend, Pat Roberts. You know Senator Roberst is first and foremost passionate about this university and the work of this university and the opportunity that this university has to do truly great things for the nation. He is concerned as I am about the safety and security of our food supply and he recognizes perhaps better than just about anybody in Congress that there is always a concern and a threat to our food supply, and that we need adequate and modern facilities to insure that we have a safe and abundant food supply. He is passionate about agriculture and he is very proud of his heritage and proud of this state, nad very proud of his country, and he is also extraordinarily proud of his military service. He is a good man, and he is a man who understands that he was sent to Congress and to the Senate to work in a bipartisan way to try and solve the nation's problems candidly, I wish we had 100 Llike him, and 435 like him in the house, and I think if we did, we'd be making a little more progress than we've been making. And so, Senator, I appreciate you being here today and I appreciate your friendship.

I think a command performance for Adrian Pelansky as our FSA State Director, Eric banks who works for NRCS State Conservationist, and Patricia Clark who is our Rural Development State Director, they had to be here today, I think. Not sure where they are. Or if they could stand and just be recognized, there they are, our state folks.

Well, this is a special day for me, I told my wife that I had been honored with this distinction and I went on the web and took a look at some of the people who have given this lecture before, and I must say, it's a bit intimidating to be on the same stage and in the same auditorium as former Presidents and former Nobel Prize winners have been to talk to you about agriculture and the importance of it. But she sort of brought me down to earth as she normally does, when she said, "Alf Landon... you know, my grandmother and my grandfather were a divided political party. My grandmother was a Republican and my grandfather was a Democrat. And Grandmother was quite enthused about Alf Landon and kept turning on the radio to hear Alf Landon Speak. At one point my grandfather got so mad that he basically said to his wife, "Listen, if I have to listen to Alf Landon speak one more time I'm throwing that damn radio out the window!" So here we are at the Landon Lecture Series.

And today is personally an important day for me because 61 years ago, my parents came to a Catholic orphanage in Pittsburg and they decided to take me home with them. I was born in this orphanage and my birth mother made the decision not to raise me, and as my parents explained to me it was sort of like shopping for the Thanksgiving turkey. They went to the orphanage and decided that they were gonna look for the plumpest kid they could find on the theory that I would be healthy and indeed brought me home. That was my first foray with food. Apparently I was well fed at the orphanage. I have a picture of myself my first day at home. Slathered in spinach and I was a pretty hefty little fella, but I don't think that my parents ever, ever, ever imagined in a hundred years that I would be the Secretary of Agriculture for this country. They might have, they might have seena future for me as a mayor as I was growing up, and maybe as the State Senator, but never in their furthest imagination the Secretary of Agriculture, because as they, like many Americans, did not fully appreciate and understand agriculture, they had been several generations removed away from the farm, and they really didn't have an appreciation for what took place in the rural areas of my homestate of Pennsylvania, or for that matter the rural areas of the United States.

And so today I thought I would take this opportunity to rise, if you will, in defense of agriculture and to speak candidly and passionately about the importance of agriculture to the rest of the country, and how underappreciated and underrecognized agriculture is in this country, and how it's going to be important particularly for the students who are in this audience to carry a message, a very positive aggressive message, about the contribution that agriculture makes to this nation every single day. And to put this in context, my staff gives me an everyday series synopsis of the media about agriculture, and I look through the clips and I kinda get a general sense of what people are talking about and saying on the topics of agriculture and relaying on to USDA and I ran across one the other day, and sometimes when I run across one, a blurb, I say I want to see the entire article.

And it was from Yahoo. Now, when I was growing up, a yahoo was somebody who was not real smart. Well, let me say that there was a yahoo writing for Yahoo who went online and decided to pontificate about useless degrees he felt by virtue of his degree in theatre that he was able to list the useless degrees that are being issued today and awarded and earned by student today in American schools. And he had his top ten list, and the number one useless degree from this individuals perspective was agriculture. And I will tell you, that is so far from the truth that it prompts me to talk about this issue today.

And I'm gonna give you seven reasons why agriculture is not a useless degree, but it's an imperative degree, it's a fundamental degree, it is a significant degree, especially for this country at this time.

Let me start with the obvious: America is a country that is food-secure. Now, don't take that for granted, don't take for granted the fact that American producers can produce enough for all of us to eat. 85 percent of all the food we consume is produced here in the United States. The other 15 percent is because we like to have tangerines and avocados 12 months a year instead of maybe 4 or 5 months out of the year. So we use import stuff because we want choice, we want diversity, but the staples of life are produced by our producers- if you take the definition of farming that we use at USFDA, it's a fairly broad expansive definition, anyone that produces more than a thousand dollars worth of produce and sells it is a farmer under accesses definition- if you focus on the people who produce the bulk of what we consume, 85 percent of the 85 percent, its one tenth of one percent of our population. It's just 2 to 300 thousand people. But since 1980, those folks ahve allowed agriculture tobe the second most productive aspect of our entire economy. And because they are so productive they are able to feed our country. And make no mistake that there's hardly any other place on earth that has that security of knowing that if all else fails, if the ports shut down, if we hunker down and we're engaged in some massive configuration, we're gonna be able to feed ourselves.

That has not always been the case. Someone who gave this lecture a number of years ago, someone whom I have a great amount of respect for. Norman Borlaug, an Iowan, came here and may have told you about his childhood in the early 30's. When Americans weren't producing enough. Or you may be aware of the future, of in the past, of the school lunch program when Harry Truman was concerned that we weren't going tob e consuming enough calories to have a military capable of defending this nation. We weren't always a nation that was food secure, we are today. And the result of it is it gives us great flexibility, not only to feed ourselves, but also to create more opportunities with reference to agriculture. So that in of itself is a reason why people should be celebrating agriculture.

In fact, we ought to put a representative sampling of American farmers on Mount Rushmore. Well, come to think of it, Washington was a farmer, Jefferson was a farmer, Lincoln came from farm country, and Roosevelt, well shoot, all he did was establish the forest service. So we have said it all on Mount Rushmore. Interesting thing about George Washinton: Did you realize that he is responsible for the American Donkey? He was the one that figured out the cross section of horses and mules. Interesting thought,a nd I'm sure that you'll take that from the lecture.

Keeping the country secure,a nd make no mistake about the fact that a country that is well fed is a country that is at peace with itself. When you take a look at what's happening in other parts of the world, a lot of the discontent, a lot of the difficulties, a lot of the turmoil, is a result of the fact that people are not fully well fed in those countries. You want to talk about the Arab Spring, what was the start of it, it was that people were hungry. It's interesting to me that when we have discussions with North Korea about nuclear weapons that the one thing that they desperately need from the rest of the world to provide food will encourage them to move away from the very dangerous path they're on.

And that brings me to the second reason why agriculture is important: keeping the country safe and secure and well fed. That in and of itself is important, but what about the capacity of the United States to help feed the world and keep it safe? There are 925 million people in the world today that are malnourished. We expect and anticipate to see the world population grow from 7 billion to 8 billion to 9 billion in the lifetime of the people in this auditorium, and it might even reach 10 billion. We have to increase food productivity by 70 percent just to meet that demand. If we think there is difficulty in the world today over oil, imagine what the difficulties will be if we are fussing and fighting over food and water. And so it will be agriculture that will provide more security, and it will be American agriculture that will lead that effort.

But there are several provisions to that, you know. One provision is that we continue to invest in research, because our extraordinary productivity that has occurred over the last 20, 30, 40 years is not just a result of us doing a slightly better job of farming, it's about the research that has allowed us to provide technologies, new seed technologies, precision agriculture, new equipment that has led to an extraordinary explosion. When I stated practicing in a small town in southeast Iowa, farmers were planting roughly 16 to 17 thousand corn seeds per acre. Today, routinely 30 thousand, some are planting 40 thousand, and there's at least one company that is experimenting on 60 thousand seeds per acre. That's extraordinary expansion to productivity. In my lifetime, a 300 percent increase in corn, a 200 increase in wheat, a 200 percent increase in soy beans, and that has allowed us the capacity to not just simply provide food for our people, but to provide food assistance for others.

There's an extraordinary program that this state has a direct connection too, called the McGovern/Dole- or the Dole/McGovern depending upon wherever you are- Feeding Program. It impacts the lives of millions of children across the world, I saw it myself in Kenya. I went to an orphanage as my first year as Secretary, and I thought it would be appropriate because it would be maybe in some small way I could connect to these young people we had the little red cup from the World Food Program and our job was to fill that little red cup with food and give it to them and then spend a few minutes talking to them. They had these food programs connected to the education program and so I asked the question that I would have asked as a Governor of State when I went to a school, what do you like about school, what's your favorite subject? If I asked that question of an American student, they might, depending upon their grade level, and depending upon how well they like school, that might be anything from math to science to recess. But these kids all had the same answer. What is it that you like about school? "It's where I get fed." It's where I get fed. Now, when you establish programs like that, the American honor, the American flag if you will, is attached to that program.And that youngster gets fed and gets educated because of that program. It is unlikely that youngster is going to grow up to dislike this country. It is more likely that this youngster is going to grow up to admire this country and want to have that same kind of opportunity in his country.

So American agriculture has the capacity and the ability not just to feed our own, but to reach out and help others. We have the Feed the Future initiative at USDA and the State Department, where we are not just simply sending our excess, but we're also providing a transfer of knowledge and information, so these farmers in those countries can be more productive as well. They are not going to compete with us. We all are in this together if we are going to meet this extraordinary human challenge of feeding the world's population and doing so at a time when there will be less land because of urban expansion globally, greater threats to water resources, and more extreme weather conditions. It's a challenge of a lifetime for the students who are here. It's the capacity to save the world. And it's American agriculture that is at the center of that. And it's at the center of making sure that we have a safer world. Less prone to terrorism, because people who are hungry, people who are well-educated, have a future. they don't necessarily want to destroy, they want to build.

So that's two pretty good reasons why American agriculture and agricultural degrees are pretty dog-gone important to this country. But what about exports, what about the economy of the country? That's pretty significant. We talk about trade deficits in this country, and we have concerns about the fact that we buy more stuff from folks than they buy from us. President says we need to double exports, well, how about putting a spotlight on one aspect of the economy that is responsible for about ten percent of all exports. That's about agriculture. A record year last year. 137 Billion dollars of agricultural products that went all over the world. China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, and the EU, our top customers for 50 years. For 50 consecutive years, we've had a trade surplus in agriculture. That means we sell more than we buy. Last year it was a record 37 billion dollars. So that you understand the significance of that, just five years ago that surplus was under five billion dollars. An extraordinary expansion of opportunity, and every billion dollars of ag sales, exported sales, generates 8400 jobs at home, improved farm income, expanded job opportunities, and the trade surplus, it's an extraordinary story, and as we look at how to rebuild and reshape the middle class in this country, the formula is pretty clear.

Yes, we'll be a government that spends less, but we need to be a government that continues to invest in educationa nd research so that we can produce more. That we become an economy that makes, creates, and innovates again. And because we are making and creating and innovating things that have never occurred before, the rest of the world wants a piece of that, and they purchase those products and that technology, and we create wealth here in the United States, and we expand in the middle class. Who is doing that? American agriculture. We invested in the debt-ridden days of the 80's, we went through turmoil, we lost a lot of good producers. It was a tough time, American agriculture could have given up. But no, that's not the way of rural America. You got a problem, you fis it, you solve it. So they went about reducing debt, investing in these new technologies, expanding capacity, producing more, meeting our needs and exporting. Bottom line, last year a record income for farmers. First time in our country's history, we had more than a hundred billion dollars in net farmers incom. It's the formula for the country. And American Agriculture has done it, it's a proof point.

So food secutrity for us, food security for the rest of the world, a growing middle class, expanding exports. Three pretty good reasons why you might want to major in Agriculture. But when you look at the economy, recognize something that occurs when someone produces something it, it has to be taken to a location where it is stored and ultimately transported to somewhere where it is processed and packaged and marketed and retailed and sold and consumed. Every one of those steps involves employment. Today, agriculture is responsible for one out of every 12 jobs in America. One out of every 12 jobs, and as we expand productivity, as we figure out new ways to use agricultural products, whole new industries crop up. Whole new pieces of farm machinery need to be developed.

I was in a John Deere facility in Ankeny not long ago, giving a speech about the Food, Farm and Jobs bill, and it was interesting to me that in this facility they were, even in the difficult economy we faced, they were adding shifts. Why? Because American agriculture was succeeding and farmers were in a position to purchase more farm equipment, and this farm equimpment was sophisticated. it was highly high tech. I'll never forget taking the EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, to a farm in Iowa, encouraging her to get out and see what's happening in American agriculture. And bless her heart, she climbed into this tractor and she started loking around at various instruments in that tractor and she pointed to the little box and she said, "What is that?"

I said, "Well, that's the GPS."

"GPS? Global positioning?"

"Yeah, it's GPS."

"Well, what's that doing in a tractor?"

"Well, it's called precision agriculture. It's the ability to make sure that we don't waste by being able to drive that tractor in a straight line. Get behind the wheel of a tractor and you drive it, you may start at one end of the field and you may anywhere from several feet to as much as thirty feet in a different spot at the other end of the field as from you were when you began. With GPS systems, the differential is six inches. A lot less wasted seed, chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides, better farm income, better for the environment." Didn't know what she said.

That sophisticated equipment is being made by folks in manufacturing facilities, and if you want to looka t where the manufacture jobs are being created and you want to look at where the income and the unemployment rate is bginning to go down at a faster rate, it's interestingly in the heartland of the country. Why is that? Maybe part of it is the auto industry, but I think it's also equally a responsibility of American agriculture.

So, it's a job creator. So, four good reasons. How about energy? Think about this, think about the fact that American agriculture is leading the way towards a more diversified energy future for this country, and one that creates job opportunities. Think about the fact that we today are now importing 45 percent of oil from other countries. Three years ago, we were at 62 percent. Now, why is that? Many reasons, but one reason is because we're continuing to use more of our rural areas to produce power in renewable ways, and we are continuing to expand to use of biofuels in this country. If you are a consumer and you are concerned about high gas prices, you just need to know a recent Iowa State study suggest that your gas prices would be somewhere between 80 and 130 cents higher if we hadn't had a biofuel industry in this country.

So American farmers and producers, by producing the feed stocks for these new fuels, are helping you reduce your cost at the pump, even as high as it is. Just think about paying 80 to 130 cents more for gas. Thank an American farmer for the fact that you're not doing that today. and the future holds an opportunity for us to be even further less reliant on foreign sources of oil, because we're figuring out how to use livestock waste and crop residue. Woody biomass, perennial grasses, double cropping systems, ways in which we can expand dramatically the amount of fuel and energy we can produce in rural areas and that in turn hlps to create more employment opportunities, and makes us energy secure. It's the beginning of a brave new opportunity and a brave new world in which virtually everything we need to run the economy can be bio- and plant-based. There are 3,100 companies in America today that are producing something like a chemical, a polymer, a fabric, a fiber, from plant-based crop residue waste, livestock waste-based, or fed stocks. American agriculture is helping us to move away from petroleum-based plastics into more renewable resources. Things that can be done here int he United States. Just imagine the enormous opportunity to re-define the economy of this country on the capacity of American agriculture to produce.

I was telling a group earlier that I had a tour of the Ohio State University bio-based operation, and they were showing me things that were jst amazing. THey showed me a dandelion and they said, "this is the future of rubber." And I said, "seriously?" And they said, "That little creamy stuff in the stem of the dandelion can be used to produce rubber. We are doing that here." Imagine. I went ot the next location, and there was a big, dark black chunk of something on the table, and I went ot it, and I said to the lady, "What is this?" And she said, "it's asphalt." And I was kind of a smart-alec, and I said, "well, you realize I'm the Secretary of Agriculture, i'm not really the Secretary of Transportation." And she's kind of a serious young lady, and she said, "well, sir, I know who you are, and ther eason we are showing you this is because the adhesive material for this chunk of asphalt is hog manure." And then, to prove she was just as much of a smart-alec as I was, she said "we are testing the roads in ohio, it's doing very well during the winter."

Just think about this, folks. The capacity to use what had little value, or limited value, now has unlimited potential. We used to be able to export chemicals in this country, but now bceause we are such a user of chemicals, we have to import them, creating wealth and jobs somewhere else. We can do it now here in America. Why? Because American agriculture, because of research in American agriculture. Food security, a safer world, great export opportunities, job growth, energy security, a new economic paradigm for the country.

Now, if you're not convinced by now that Yahoo was a yahoo, let me just make three other points before I take questions. One is that American agriculture in rural America represents the vast majority of our land mass. And therefore we have a unique responsibility and opportunity to impact the environment of this country. No better stewards of the land and water than those who farm and ranch. Why? Because they depend on the land and the water for their livelihood. It's as much a part of them as their family is, and they treat it as such. Today, we have a record amound of acres and conservation programs. We have the capacity to improve and expand dramatically in our wildlife diversity and the quality of our water, and that's not just important for agriculture, and that's not just important ofr the environment. But it opens up whole new opportunities for outdoor recreation. You think that's not a big deal. Outdoor recreation is a 730 billion dollar part of our economy. Just go by a Bass Pro Shop, and you'll know what I'm talking about. People pay a lot of money for shotguns, fishing gear, canoes, kayaks, and four-wheelers. If we can expand diversity of wildlife and we can clean the waters of this country and create new fishing and hunting and bird-watching and hiking opportunities, we expand outdoor recreation we expand another oportunity for reconnecting people with their rural roots. So the environment benefits from American agriculture.

But, see, it's the American story that I think is significant, and it's the American value system that I think is significant. Just think about the fact that 35 percent of all the vegetbles that are produced in this country and nearly 50 percent of all the fruit is at tsome point in time touched by hired labor. And that most of our food and livestock that is ultimately processed is touched and pinspected and cut up and butchered by hired labor. And you know and I know that a substantial percentage of those folks that are doing all that hard work are immigrants. Some of them are here because they followed the rules and some of them are here because they did not. But they are doing what your family did at some point in time. And I start out this discussion pointing out the fact that I'm an orphan, and I don't know my family. I don't know what my heritage is. I'm always jealous of people that have the ability to go back hundreds of years and know the stories of their family, but I can tell you that if we interviewed every single person in this auditorium, you'd eventually get to someone from your family that immigrated to this country, and probably didn't come in here witha lot of wealth and riches. Probably came here iwth the clothes on their back and a strong desire to experience America. That's the same thing that is happening in these farm fields today. These people work jobs that a lot of us wouldn't want to work. they work hard, they work in physically demanding jobs, and they work in dangerous jobs.

And why do they do it? They do it to take care of their family. They do it because they believe if they work hard and they save, their families will have a better life. Their children one day might be able to got to school, and one day maybe one of their kids might go to K-State. Get a college degree and be somebody. That's the essence of the American Dream. That before you can dream, you have to struggle. And immigrant populations remind us of that every generation. And it's American agriculture in many cases. That has been our history and our entry point for those who struggle, for those who work hard, for those who save, for those who have a compelling vision of a better life for their family. Now, we've got a broken immigration system in this country, and we've got to have the guts to fix it. But understand that American agriculture has been the gateway, and it is what has provided this country since the beginning, with the capacity of the new generation to come in with the willingness to sacrifice, willingness to save, willingness to do what's necessary to succeed. And that has kept this country going, and that has kept this country great.

And then there is the generation of Americans who have been here for a while, who live in these rural communities. what kind of people are these folks who live in these small towns, on these farms and ranches? They're great people, they're great Americans. how do I know that? Rural America represents 16 percent of America's population, but nearly 40 percent of the men and women in uniform today come from rural america. 40 percent of those kids we're welcoming back from Iraq, 40 percent of those kids we hope come back from Afghanistan whole, they're from those small towns. I've got a 20 year old nephew, and I share him with Senator Roberts, who is a Marine. He grew up in a family whose dad is a lawyer, mom works at a college. They've got plenty of dough. Smart kid, B student. He didn't have to go to the Marines. He chose. Why did he choos? Because he didn't have any other opportunities? Heck, he could have gone to just about any college in the country. Parents could have paid for it. Why did he do that? Why do a disproportionate number of people from rural America go into the military? Because they are raised in a farm community, and they are surrounded by people who understand something very basic about the land. You can't keep taking from it. There is not a farmer in this audience that could stay in business very long if they didn't give something back to the land that they farmed. They replenish it, they renourish it, and when they do, the land can keep producing for them. They understand it's a bargain, it's a give and take, and when you grow up surrounded by that value system, you understand a country is now different. you can't keep taking from it. You have to give something back.

You know, as a Governor, I had many great resonsibilities, but probably the greatest responsibility and the greatest privilege was to be the commander in chief of the National Guard troops. And unfortunately in a time of war, you have the difficult challenge of seeing beople off to war, and then welcoming them back, and that's an emotional event unlike any you'll ever experience. But there is also tht sad reality that some of them do not come back. And your responsibility as a Governor is to reach out to families and express on behalf of a grateful citizenry the sacrifice the family has made.

Let me finish with one story. Bruce Smith was a 20-year veteran of the Iowa National Guard. Bruce lived in a small town called West Liberty. West Liberty, by the way, is about half hispanic, half caucasisan. there's a turkey processing plant there. And bruce, he had a pretty decent job, he had a beautiful wife, two children. His country called him to Iraq. This would be his third tour of duty. Bruce was that guy in the National Guard that all the young guys went to because he had been around forever. He was a helicopter pilot, his job was to ferry troops from one part of Baghdad to another. I don't know if you've been to baghdad during that point in time, and it may seem kind of strange that you have to actually helicopter people from one neighborhood to another, but it was so dangerous you couldn't drive. So he was ferrying a group one day,and his chopper was hit with a handheld missile, and as I've been told by the adjutant general from the radio discussion, he had a brief moment, and he had very limited capacity to maneuver that chopper as it was going down. And he had a choice betweening maneuvering that probably could have increased his chances of survival and that of his co-pilot, but that would have probably put the folks on board at greater risk, or vice versa, put himself at greater risk, but maybe increased the chances of some of those people walking away and he did what he was taught to do. He did what kids in rural America are taught to do, he did their responsibility. he put himself at risk, he died, his co-pilot died, but 17 people walked away from that crash.

I had to talk to his wife. I can tell you, I give a lot of speeches, a lot of lectures, a lot of talks when you're a politician, but nobody has ever written the words that will convey to somebody that you have any understanding or appreciation for what they must be going through since their life got turned around within a 24, 48-hour period and they were told that their husbund that they had married and loved for 20 years was gone and never coming back. That you, with a high school degree, would have to raise your two children on your own. So I talked to this wonderful woman, and I said, "lady, I'm terribly sorry." I struggled and I started talking about thoughts and prayers and I just couldn't find the words. And this wonderful woman interrupts me in the middle of it and she says, "Governor, you know, I appreciate your call, I've got this figured out."

"Figured out?" How could you possibly have it figured out?

"See, the way I figured, the 17 people who lived that day needed Bruce more in that split second than I will need him in the rest of my life."

And I realized then, as I realized many times in my travel around rural areas of the country that I was in the presents of greatness. Bruce understood that he had a responsibility and a duty to give back to his country and to put himself on the line. His wonderful spouse understood that she too had a responsibility, and that sometimes countries call for greater sacrifices from some family than others. And that family was prepared to make that sacrifice, because they were raised in an area of the of the country that understood that bargain, that responsibility, that two-way street that a country and its citizens have. And that is a result of agriculture, and the value system within agriculture.

So don't tell me that a degree in Agriculture is useless. Don't tell me that we ought not to be appreciating and celebrating and acknowledging the etraordinary contribution of farm families around this country. Don't tell me it's just an afterthought. Don't tell me that it's not something that we ought not to appreciate and cherish and nourish, and to the young people that are here, I leave you with a challenge. You have this unbelievable opportuinity. To reacquaint people in this country witht he extraordinary work of American farmers, ranchers, and producers. You have this enormous, exciting, challenging future where you not just can reshape agriculture, not just gain acceptance of these great big science breakthroughs that will allow us to feed the world and our own country, not just the capacity to make us less reliant on countries that don't like us for our energy, but you have the capacity to reshape the economy so that it's sustainable, environmentally friendly, creates jobs, and brings renewed faith and interest and hope and opportunity to rural parts of this country. And in doing so, you can keep that value system, that American struggle, and that American bargain that I just talked about alive. You have that power. Use it. Don't just simply focus on your small piece. Understand, you are an ambassador for American agriculture, and for all the good that it stand for. Don't be bashful, don't be humble about this. You've got to tell folks, you've got to broadcast it, you've got to share it. Don't have the conversation be insular just within agriculture. We've got to talk to the other 98 percent, we've got to tell them that the reason this country is strong, the reason this country is great. And the reason this country has an extraordinary future began, continues, and will always bee because we have farm families. We are extraordinarily blessed. And you have a mission, seize it.

Thank you very much.



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