American farmers are the backbone of this nation. They work quietly and are too often forgotten by the other 98 percent of Americans. They are the “forgotten men and women” Trump pledged to honor. It would do them — and very likely, him — a world of good if he would just stop tweeting long enough to visit them.

Editorial

Richmond Times-Dispatch

March 21 was National Agriculture Day. We regret that we overlooked the observance, as we suspect most folks did. It should be a day that the entire nation shows its appreciation to the 2 percent of Americans who work the land.

Worldwide, the U.S. ranks third in food production, just below China and India. However, while those two nations raise food primarily to feed their own populations of 1.3 billion each, America feeds the world. The nation has dominated the food export market for a very long time. In 2015, U.S. food exports totaled about $149 billion — nearly twice that of second place Brazil’s $79 billion.

Nowhere else is food produced with anything close to the efficiency of American farmers. The 922 million acres of American farmland produce a vast array of food including corn, wheat, soybeans, and beef.

As we recognize those Americans who feed us, our thoughts and prayers go out to the farmers and ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. In what may be the greatest natural disaster not being reported, devastating wildfires in the past months have cost them more than 1 million acres of farmland, miles of fences, and hundreds of thousands of livestock. Some ranchers have lost as much as 80 percent of their cattle herds.

State and local agriculture offices and farm bureaus are doing what they can. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made $6 million in aid available to assist in recovery efforts. (It won’t go far.) Much more is needed — and farmers across the nation have pitched in to help. From Colorado to Michigan to Ohio, farmers are sending caravans of hay, feed, seed, milk for orphaned calves, and even livestock to the affected areas. One family from Washington County, Iowa, donated an entire semi-trailer of their own hay stock.

Last Monday, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe visited ranchers in his state, promising relief and help. But noticeably absent in the desolated area is the president. For farmers and ranchers in the affected three states, all of which voted Republican in the 2016 election, President Trump’s silence is deeply upsetting. “This is the country that elected Donald Trump,” rancher Garth Gardiner told The New York Times, “I think he’d be doing himself a favor to come out and visit us.”

American farmers are the backbone of this nation. They work quietly and are too often forgotten by the other 98 percent of Americans. They are the “forgotten men and women” Trump pledged to honor. It would do them — and very likely, him — a world of good if he would just stop tweeting long enough to visit them.

Photo by Bo Rader, Wichita Eagle/via AP

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