Two of the pillars of our country’s national security have long been a strong military and sound agricultural policy.
Those words from Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, prefaced a recent hearing by the committee on agriculture and national security that included statements by former military leaders, men who have seen firsthand the impact of insufficient food and inadequate agriculture in war zones and elsewhere.
“For decades,” Conaway said, “the U.S. has invested in transportation and infrastructure, agricultural research and innovation, and risk management tools for farmers — all of which have led to a vibrant and stable agricultural sector. Combined with the might of the U.S. military, we have long enjoyed relative peace and prosperity.”
That has not been the case in some other parts of the world, he noted. In many places where agricultural development hasn’t been a priority, there has been “tremendous instability,” emphasizing “how important it is for the U.S. to continue providing the tools that are necessary for our nation to be able to feed and clothe its people.”
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Among the speakers, Major General Darren G. Owens, U.S. Army retired, Pecos, Texas, told the committee, “I firmly believe that America’s first line of defense is our ability to feed and clothe our people. Without American agriculture providing adequate supplies of food and fiber at a reasonable cost, we would all be dependent on other nations — and that could place the food security, and ultimately the security of the nation, at risk.”
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Food insecurity, Owens said, “can have devastating effects. I know a man will sell his soul to do whatever it takes to feed his family. We do not want to experience that in the U.S. I believe the comprehensive farm policy and integrated farm programs established in the U.S. have helped to insure adequate supplies of food and fiber … and have allowed us to maintain a healthy people and economy.
“As you think about the future of farm policy,” he told the House committee members, “never forget that one of the primary purposes of all programs should be to insure the food security of the nation and the sustainability of food and fiber for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”