If I could use one word to describe the farmers and ranchers I have met during my time as Deputy Secretary it would be passionate. Last week, it was my great pleasure to join the White House in honoring 17 extraordinary new and beginning farmers who represent the future of agriculture—and let me say, that future is incredibly bright. As our world population continues to grow, it is expected that there will be over 9 billion people to feed by 2050. With this population growth also comes a growing need for new farmers to take on the challenge of feeding the world.
The White House Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing innovative things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The most recent Champions of Change program featured individuals who are dedicated to the future of American agriculture. These individuals are doing extraordinary things to build the bench for the next generation of farming and ranching. These champions are leading in their industries and communities, inspiring others who want to find careers and a life on the land.
After recognizing the Champions’ hard work, there was a great discussion about how we can continue growing and supporting the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers. It is up to our new farmers to carry out the innovation and promise that American agriculture is known for. One champion said it best when she said “Every country needs food and every country needs farmers.” That is why, since day one, my priority has been to ensure that beginning farmers and the growing ranks of agriculture – women, young people, immigrants, socially disadvantaged producers, returning veterans and retirees – have access to the programs and support they need.
The face of the American farmer is one that is rapidly changing and evolving. Of the 17 Champions, we saw a variety of backgrounds and agricultural operations. Some Champions were born into agriculture, while others became the first in their family to work in the industry. The Champions also included a veteran, a refugee farmer, leaders of agricultural groups and a variety of folks from rural to urban areas alike.
The agriculture industry faces challenges that are greater than ever before. However, I am confident in the ability of American farmers to meet these challenges head on. The 17 Champions of Change were honored to highlight and showcase the extraordinary qualities seen in those involved across the agriculture industry: dedication, responsibility and a passion for the future of agriculture.
To view the video from the event, you can watch the White House Agriculture Champions of Change video.
To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
For more information on USDA programs to support new and beginning farmers, visit www.usda.gov/newfarmers.