Food—it’s the center of so much of our lives, especially this time of year. We gather around a table with our family and friends, telling stories and enjoying great memories. The centerpiece of that conversation is great food. I’m sure most people take for granted how much hard work went into making that meal happen, especially the farmers who worked 7 days a week, every day of the year to raise or grow the what’s on that plate.
It’s a tough job that doesn’t get a lot of praise or awards. And sometimes it’s not about how hard you work, but how Mother Nature treats you that year. The work is so demanding that most have left the farm to find work elsewhere in a job that’s more comfortable. In fact, 150 years ago, 90 out of every 100 Americans were farmers. Today, it’s 2 out 100—and more than 90% of those are family owned and operated. And those few American farmers are producing food for the world. Roughly 25% of what’s produced by American farmers is exported. Modern farm techniques have allowed farmers to produce more food on fewer acres—262% more food than in 1950!
Just like modern agriculture has evolved and shifted to meet the needs of a growing world, so has our business. And while we’re focused on growing our branded product portfolio and value added meals, at the end of the day we rely on farmers to grow crops, produce ingredients, and raise animals we eventually package and sell in one way or another. Farmers aren’t just vital to our business—they’re part of the backbone of it.
Many of us weren’t raised on a farm and may not know a farmer on a personal level. Many of you do. But we should all understand how important farmers are to our business and our lives as consumers. When you gather around the table this season or any other don’t forget to say ‘thanks’ to who made it possible. As the saying goes, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.”
Donnie Smith is President and CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc.