By Baxter Troutman
With the holiday season upon us, I have a request from the heart — a couple of them, actually. First, when you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends and before you enjoy the fine feast, please do take time to count your blessings. Like the stars that shine more brightly and beautifully in a rural night sky, the blessings each of us enjoys truly are innumerable. Secondly, please take a moment to think about and thank a farmer — perhaps one you know personally or one among the millions of American farmers who helped to make your holiday meal possible.
Thanksgiving Day, the start of our “season of gratitude,” is among my favorite holidays. It’s a feel-good time, a big reminder to me about the importance of being grateful — not just once a year but throughout the year. People who study these things tell us that gratitude is good for us — good for our hearts, our minds, our attitudes, our overall health, and our levels of stress, anxiety, and optimism. To put it simply, “A thankful heart is a happy heart.”
For me, gratitude extends to farmers near and far — the hard-working men and women who faithfully and unceremoniously do their part to help feed the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tell us we had 2.05 million U.S. farms in 2017 (down 12,000 from 2016). Are there enough farms and farmers here and abroad? When you consider that 800 million people worldwide go to bed hungry each night, the answer is no. So, let’s be thankful for the farmers we do have — the farmers and ranchers who, as the statistics show and the sayings go:
- With each U.S. farm, feed 165 people annually in the USA and abroad.
- Comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population.
- Receive only 15 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home.
- Produce a food supply that is affordable overall and among the world’s safest.
- “Don’t work ’til the sun goes down (but) ’til the job gets done.”
- “Love to live where they work and work where they live.”
- “Work 400 hours a month to feed people.”
- “Buy everything in retail, sell everything at wholesale, and pay the freight both ways.” (JFK)
At Thanksgiving and year round, lets all appreciate and thank our farmers.
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing agency with five locations in Polk, Hillsborough, and DeSoto counties. You can visit his agritourism-ranching operation at www.DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher, citrus grower, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges, concerns, and importance of today’s farmer. Together, we can Keep Flor