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Essay Winner - Miriam Martin
Meadville R-IV High School
"American Agriculture: Feeding the Future, Filling the Gaps"
"Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” When William Jennings Bryan made this statement in his famous speech titled “America’s Mission” in 1899, he had no idea that the word’s population was projected to exceed nine billion by 2050. However, he did realize that if America was going to succeed in future generations, we had to be prepared, proactive, and persevering. The responsibility to sustain America and the potential to feed the world is within American agriculture.
The first step in feeding the future is being prepared. This requires educating American consumers, constant innovation within biotechnology, and a clear vision for the future. Opportunities range from teaching elementary students where their food comes from, to speaking with legislators about how regulations affect production agriculture’s livelihood. Taking advantage of international markets and funding research to increase safety and efficiency is absolutely necessary. More food will have to be produced in the next 50 years than the last 10,000 years combined, if we are going to accomplish our goal of feeding the world.
Secondly, we must be proactive when it comes to showing others that we care about the well being of our animals. Being willing to share our story and listen to others’ concerns is very important. When we are open minded and willing to cooperate, we discover solutions to problems instead of magnifying them. I am a beef and pork producer that understands how transparent I need to be with my quality assurance programs. People don’t care what you have to say until they know that you care. Caring means staying informed about the safest handling techniques, giving tours of your operation to the public, and being involved in social media. We must consider our environmental impact and be stewards of the land.
In order to succeed we must persevere. American agriculture cannot be focused on simply feeding ourselves; that would be selfish. We are striving to feed the future, and that means thinking and educating globally. When we work with scientifically advanced countries, it ensures consistency and predictability. This requires perseverance to work with different cultures, values, and standards.
As William Jennings Bryan said, we are given a choice. We have the option of stepping up to the challenge or shying away. My plea is that America cares enough about the fact that someone dies every 2.43 seconds of starvation, to do something about it. This will take the determination to prepare, courage to be proactive and conviction to persevere. I believe American agriculture has the power to feed the future and fill the gaps.