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Thanksgiving's Heroes

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As we all sit down together this week, and share food with family and friends, let us collectively, as a nation, take a moment to say thanks to the people who grow our food:

Thanks to the farmers who raise the turkeys that become the centerpiece of our meal. Thanks to farmer William Smith in Southern Pennsylvania who keeps the poults warm and the full-grown birds healthy; thanks to all the farmers raising turkeys in Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.

Thanks to the farmers who raise cranberries from the reflective, watery bogs of Massachusetts, Oregon and New Jersey; cranberries that become the bittersweet sauce we pour over our turkey.

Thanks to the farmers who sow wheat in the wind-swept fields of North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. Thanks to farmer Andre Houssney who harvests wheat in Central Colorado, and then threshes, winnows and grinds this crop into flour for our bread.

Thanks to the farmers who plant, water, tend, and harvest the fields of fresh sweet corn in Florida, Georgia and California.

Thanks to the farmers who milk the cows twice each day. Thanks to the Klessig family dairy in Northern Wisconsin that has been operating every day since 1850, thanks to the Groth family dairy in Southeastern Minnesota, and to all those dairywomen and dairymen in New York, Utah and Vermont who forego vacations to feed us. The milk from these cows becomes the butter we spread on our corn, the cheese we melt on our biscuits, and eat sliced with bread.

Thanks to the farmers who survive the beetle, the drought, the cold and the flood to dig up potatoes in Idaho, Kentucky, Arizona and Alaska.

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Thanks to farmer Stacy Engel who places straw down over garlic after planting in Central Washington, and to farmers like her in Connecticut, and Oklahoma. We mash these potatoes and garlic cloves together and serve with gravy.

Thanks to the farmers who harvest yams in North Carolina, Texas and Mississippi and to the farmers who snap green beans in Tennessee.

Thanks to the farmers who produce the maple syrup we pour on our yams. Thanks to farmer Matthew Keener in Southwest Ohio who treks through the woods unloading buckets of sap each March to boil down the clear liquid into amber syrup.

Thanks to the farmers who raise hens in Iowa and Indiana. These eggs mixed with flour from our grains, form the crust of our blueberry, blackberry, cherry, pumpkin and pecan pies.

Thanks to the farmers who plant the cherry trees in Michigan, the farmers who pick the blueberries in Maine and West Virginia. Thanks to Randall Webb who teaches the FFA students in Carroll County Virginia how to grow and market blackberries.

Thanks to the farmers who cut sugar cane in Hawaii, Mississippi, and Louisiana and the farmers who raise pumpkins in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Thanks to the farmers who grow pecans in Georgia, New Mexico and Alabama that top the pie that finishes our Thanksgiving meal...

This Thanksgiving holiday we all sit down together, all 310 million of us, eating together as Americans. Our tables will be filled with an incredible quantity of food. Farmers in all fifty states have produced the food on our dinner tables, and the varieties of dishes on the table are as diverse as the regions and people of our great nation. We're able to appreciate this feast because of the selfless, hardworking, humble people we know as farmers.

From a grateful nation, to all you farmers out there:

Thanks.

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