The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was marked by adversity. Winter that year had been especially brutal with the elements and disease bringing death to many Pilgrims and their children.
Despite the hardship, the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the New World in October of 1621 with a feast lasting three days. And according to an eye-witness account by Edward Winslow, the event was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.
Now, nearly 400 years later, American farmers will once again celebrate the holiday and give thanks for another bountiful harvest. Despite the adversity they faced in 2019, they will express gratitude and hope for a better 2020.
The challenges facing American farmers are certainly different than the challenges the Pilgrims faced in the New World 400 years ago. Today, the challenge is mainly over low commodity prices, with many farmers struggling to stay in business. Still, they carry on. It’s in their DNA.
As American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, a Greensboro, Ga., farmer, sees it, even in the tough times, he can’t imagine a better job than being a farmer. “But it’s more than a job: It’s a calling. America’s farmers and ranchers take great pride in answering the call to serve our families, neighbors and nation by growing a wholesome and sustainable food supply,” Duvall says.
Duvall emphasizes that farmers don’t take for granted the trust Americans place in them. He notes that when times are tough, it is support and encouragement that keeps them going.
“As we gather around our tables this Thanksgiving, America’s farmers and ranchers have good reason to be thankful and to hope. Yes, we have faced hard times, but we don’t reserve thanks only for the easy times. We have banded together and made our bonds of friendship and community stronger through every kind of storm, while still hoping for better days,” Duvall says.
Hope is a vital trait for a successful farmer. As 2019 draws to a close, farmers are hoping for a better 2020. They are hoping for cooperative weather, a bountiful harvest and an end to the trade skirmishes that hamper prices.
One thing is certain: Every American should be forever grateful that American farmers carry on despite the adversity they face. The Thanksgiving meal we will all enjoy this year would be impossible without the American farmer.