Those who produce food for America's table finally heard a word about agriculture in the final presidential debate.
But just one question and four minutes were devoted to a major sector of the U.S. economy, one that contributes 25% of the Gross Domestic Product, or approximately $2 trillion.
"It seems farmers and ranchers are a forgotten people in today's political landscape," said National Farmers Organization President Paul Olson. "Agriculture is one of America's largest economic sectors, but has been noticeably absent in presidential campaign dialogue during a year when many farm commodity prices are at 20-year lows."
Prices dairy farmers are paid to produce milk hover at 1978 levels, and grain prices are at lows not seen in many years. And those low prices are hitting just when fuel and general farm operating costs are on the rise, and costly investment in ag technology is increasingly required for farmers to cash flow their operations. Technology, is some cases, that has not been entirely proven as safe to consumers or the environment.
"Agriculture enormously impacts consumers, domestically and globally," underscored Paul. "Because each and every one of us is effected by how our food is produced, when politicians ignore agriculture, they are effectively neglecting everyone."
The issue grows in importance when consumers consider that every dollar of farm income generates an additional $9 throughout the economy, and each ag producer creates an additional 10 off-farm jobs each year.
"There is no question that this country needs to make changes in its farm bill," said Olson. "With key commodities at severely low price levels, we must put into place a better safety net to keep farmers in business. We simply cannot continue to produce returns far below our production costs."
The national organization of farmers and ranchers believes that how and by whom food is produced will become a major world issue in the future. One that bears more attention than the current presidential campaign year has afforded.