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Have you thanked a farmer for their hard work?

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By The Staff

Did you know that, on average, each American earns enough income to pay for their annual food supply in just 37 days? That’s just over 10 percent of our income. America’s farmers are unmatched in their ability to consistently produce an abundance of affordable food. And they continue to do this despite significant challenges and uncertainty on a daily basis, including inclement weather, damaging insects and other challenges.

This past month my heart has been torn as I have been glued to CNN watching the plight of the Haitian people. Haiti was my home for two years as I served as an agricultural missionary before becoming the ag teacher here at Henry County. My time in Haiti taught me much about wants and needs and constantly helps me to keep my priorities in check. Getting enough food to feed their families for that day is the main daily concern of most Haitians. I don’t know what the statistics are in Haiti but if I had to guess, I would say that at least 70 percent of their income goes to food. The daily wage in Haiti is $2.50 US. That is for a 10-hour workday of mainly physical labor. And there are 100 people for each of these jobs available.

The day of the earthquake will be one I’ll remember for a long time. I had shown my freshman ag class pictures from my time in Haiti as a part of our unit on international agriculture. Haiti is a perfect example of subsistence farming, or farming to meet the needs of your family. I also like to give my students a glimpse of the lessons that I learned while I was there as they look at pictures of homes made of leaves and farmers plowing with a hoe or an ox. Yet, when I went home I was working on my taxes, frustrated that I would have to pay federal tax because not enough was withheld. Then someone called to tell me to turn on the news. Immediately, like Haiti often does, my priorities filed back into perspective.

The US uses my taxes to build amazing roads, National Parks and help people in need. Haiti has no such government structure. And I knew that even after I paid all my taxes, I would still have plenty left to cover my food expenses because American farmers were so efficient at what they did. Never has there been a day that I have had to question whether I would be able to afford to eat that day. This is a constant thought that runs through Haitian minds.

So today I come to you as your agriculture teacher, Farm Bureau Ladies Committee member and former Haitian missionary to ask you to consider some things. Have you thanked a farmer for their hard work? Have you counted your blessings to live in a country like America? Have you widened your perspective to see your situation in light of others around the world? Have you offered help to Haitians and others in plight? Are you investing in your youth, the future of agriculture and your government? I am guilty also of getting wrapped up in the “American dream.” So sometimes I have to do a reality check, count my blessings and figure out ways to help other people in need.

This year National Food Check-Out Week coincides with National FFA Week, where we focus on the organization that does so much to develop leadership, personal growth and career success in our youth. Both give me reason to celebrate!

Lindsey Cottrell