Oklahoma First Gentleman Wade Christensen Leads Governors' Spouses Session on AgricultureWed, 26 Feb 2014 14:55:28 CST
While governors from across the nation met last week in Washington, DC during the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting, their spouses held their own program organized by the NGA's Spouses Leadership Committee (SLC). Oklahoma First Gentleman Wade Christensen currently serves as SLC chairman.
Christensen, who is a fourth-generation farmer from Thomas, Oklahoma, moderated the weekend's "signature session," which focused this year on agriculture. The session, titled "America's Farms: Feeding and Strengthening Communities," highlighted the important role farming and ranching operations play in providing a safe and healthy food source in the U.S. and throughout the world. It also highlighted the importance of the agricultural sector to the U.S. economy, national security and public health.
"American culture celebrates farming as an important part of our history, but sometimes we don't remember how important it is to our economy and our way of life today," said Christensen. "Modern farming operations are using cutting edge technologies. They employ millions of American workers and produce over $100 billion in exports each year."
Christensen said the effects of American agriculture can be felt throughout the country and the world.
"I wanted to focus the spouses' attention on an industry that exists in every state, contributes to all of our local and state economies, and also feeds us," said Christensen.
"American farms are part of the solution to so many of the problems we face today. Whether its childhood obesity or global hunger, farmers are helping to address some of the great issues of our times."
Also speaking at the session was Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese.
Reese said he welcomed the chance to talk about the importance of agriculture to the governors spouses.
"Farming and ranching employ almost 200,000 Oklahomans," said Reese. "Nationally, this country exports approximately $6 billion in ag-related products every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's big business to us. But the impact isn't just an economic one. Fruits and vegetables from American farms are, along with exercise, the solution to childhood obesity. American exports are providing affordable food in bulk to populations that might otherwise go hungry. And maintaining a safe, abundant, affordable food supply in the U.S. is a national security imperative. Regardless of your interests, agriculture needs to be part of the conversation.
"This was the first time in anyone's memory that agriculture was the primary topic of the spouses sessions. It was an excellent and open discussion, and I am very thankful that Mr. Christensen highlighted our industry in this very important meeting."
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