Comment Column: Agriculture Connects Us All

Posted on Dec 16, 2020
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

We’ve all seen or heard the jokes about 2020 being a disaster. For some, it cannot end soon enough. But 2020 is no joke! It has been a tough year—a year of devastating loss for too many. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and those who are still coping with its health and economic impacts.  

The pandemic is far from over, but it’s not too early to think about its impacts on food and agriculture. There were temporary shortages of some foods, caused by sudden changes in buying practices. Those runs on the grocery store and empty shelves made people stop and think about where their food comes from and whether there would be enough. That’s something we normally don’t worry about; we take our abundance for granted.

Farm Bureau worked to ensure consumers knew that farmers and ranchers were still growing the food we need. Our #StillFarming campaign reached 96 million people around the world. The #StillFarming movement tells the stories of farmers and ranchers still hard at work during the pandemic, and the challenges they are overcoming to feed America and the world.

That’s one silver lining from the pandemic—greater visibility and appreciation for those who keep us supplied with all the things we need to live, including farmers and ranchers and others who work in what we call the food chain—the chain that connects everyone to the farm, connects rural and urban Americans.

It often feels as though our nation is sorely divided, but I believe we’ve also come together in recognition of the importance of essential workers, including farmers and ranchers, to our everyday lives.

Now we’ve entered the holiday season, which begins with thanksgiving for the abundance we enjoy and, for many, culminates in great feasts that begin on the farm. These celebrations are rooted, literally, in America’s farmland. This season gives us an opportunity to connect with what really matters: our faith, health, loved ones and many blessings. We are so blessed to live in a land of freedom and plenty. Even in 2020, we have so much to be grateful for.

The late Rep. Kika de la Garza of Texas, former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, used to say that anyone who eats is connected to agriculture. Farm Bureau works for America’s farmers and ranchers, but we also work for all Americans—anyone who eats. When we work for government policies that allow farmers and ranchers to be productive and economically sustainable, we are working to ensure that food gets to everyone’s tables during this holiday season and throughout the year.

At a time when we may feel disconnected from one another, I’m grateful for these opportunities to celebrate what connects us. I’m proud that agriculture connects us all.

As we look toward the New Year, I hope and pray we can return to joyful connections to our communities, friends and family.

I wish you all a blessed holiday season.

Zippy Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.