Advocacy for Ag: The Next Generation
Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan addressed a room full of her peers at an intern luncheon in Washington, DC, yesterday.
Teresa—who started working with The Hand That Feeds U.S. just this past April—has already made quite a name for herself in the world of agriculture. Interns came from all over DC—from Capitol Hill to the American Farm Bureau Federation and the USDA—to hear Teresa speak about the importance of holding America's thin green line.
Former House Ag Committee Chair, Larry Combest, introduced Miss America and expressed his enthusiasm for her involvement in agriculture. "We love having her speak up for us," he told the interns at the end of the lunch. "That's the only way we're going to get you all to listen!"
Mr. Combest was only partly joking. A main component of Teresa's message is the fact that the number of farmers in America is decreasing, while the average age of farmers in America is increasing. So, while she will meet with policy makers on Capitol Hill during her visit, she thought it was important to spend some of her time in DC speaking to our future leaders about the future of our food supply.
"Growing up in Gering, Nebraska, I had always supported agriculture, but I wasn't aware of how much support it needed—and how hard those involved had to fight to keep it," Teresa explained to the audience.
"With only 210,000 U.S. farmers shouldering agricultural production in this country, there is, what we like to call "a thin green line" standing between an affordable, available, and safe domestic food supply, and total dependence on foreign countries."
Teresa recently collaborated with Larry Combest on an op-ed that ran last week addressing these very issues while reflecting on recent natural disasters that have left rural farmlands inoperable.
"That is where our nation's farm policy comes into play," Teresa urged the audience. "It is during these times—in the wake of a catastrophe, when we are looking to rebuild, that our farmers need to be able to look toward a strong safety net to ensure that through the chaos, the country's food and fiber supply will remain unharmed."
After the luncheon, the interns stayed for a few questions, and more than a few photo ops.
When asked about the budget, Teresa answered candidly saying that without having taken any advanced economic courses at the age of 18, the best she could do is compare the federal budget to a household one.
"I don't know about federal budgets but I do know about household budgets. And I know that you would never cut food from your family's budget—so why from the country's? It's something we simply cannot do without."