Thanksgiving is a time for expressing our appreciation for the many blessings we enjoy. The food that is a central part of the celebration is one of those blessings.
Our farmers and ranchers provide us with an abundant supply of nutrition throughout the year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumers in Florida and across the nation pay one of the least expensive food bills in the world. In some countries the average household must pay 40 to 50 percent of its annual income for food.
Farm families also continue to produce an ample supply of nourishment under challenging circumstances. USDA economists report that the farmer’s share of the U.S. food dollar in the early 1970s was nearly 30 cents. Last year it was about 17 cents.
Our agricultural triumph has been possible because of the dedication and productivity of farm families. They produce more with less acreage and less income and more regulation than ever before in our nation’s history.
They also contribute to our society in other ways. They give back to their communities.
Their willingness to help others has been on full display here in Florida. For example, during the past two years Florida’s farm families have donated more than 20 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to food banks and other charitable organizations.
Perhaps the most dramatic examples of farmers helping others occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Millions of Floridians suffered extended electrical power outages after the storm struck. A group of farm women in Highlands County took matters into their own hands so they could help utility workers who struggled to restore the power grid.
They collected soiled clothing from dozens of workers every evening at 10 p.m., transported the items to a functioning laundry, then washed and dried all items for use the next morning. And the volunteers continued to perform this service until the power lines were rebuilt.
Another Highlands County farmer arranged to bring in potable water, tarpaulins, ready-to-eat meals and other supplies for all who needed them in his community.
In Palm Beach County yet another grower harvested his available fruits and vegetables and delivered them to local citizens who lacked basic necessities and could not get access to grocery stores.
Such selfless acts of service to others reflect one of our cherished national traditions.
JOHN L. HOBLICK, GAINSVILLE
Editor’s note: Hoblick is president of Florida Farm Bureau.