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This week, the American Farm Bureau celebrated its 100th birthday. For a century, this organization has carried out a mission of ensuring farmers and ranchers around the country have a voice both in their home states and on a national level. This week is an opportunity to recognize farmers here in Missouri and across the country for the important work they do. Farming is a little bit of an "under the radar" industry in the sense that it is not always front page news. But this doesn't detract from the fact that the agriculture industry is a critical part of our nation's infrastructure and economy. We rely on agriculture to fulfill a variety of needs from food, to energy, to economic and national security.

Agriculture is part of our lifeblood here in Missouri. With two-thirds of our state covered in farm land and almost 100,000 farms, our state's longstanding agricultural tradition is alive and well. Like countless Missourians, I helped pay my way through college raising hogs and cattle, and my wife and I still operate a 160-acre farm in St. Elizabeth. Missouri ranks No. 2 in the country in number of farms, third for cattle and fourth for rice. Our $88 billion agriculture industry makes us a critical producer not just for the nation, but for the entire world. Due to our significant impact on agriculture, the USDA just opened two permanent offices in Missouri, calling us the "hub for agriculture in America's heartland."

The USMCA was signed by both Canadian and Mexican leaders and President Trump almost a year ago. This trade deal is extremely important for farmers and ranchers as it would give our ag producers better access to our most important trade partners. In an industry where uncertainty is the only thing certain, the USMCA will help ensure some security for our nation's farmers. Here in Missouri, we know firsthand that unpredictable weather conditions can potentially decimate our crops. We saw catastrophic flooding earlier this year that had devastating effects on our farm and ranching industry. The USMCA will provide a safety net for these American farmers and ranchers, many of whom have spent their lives providing for their country. By maintaining America's status as the world's agriculture leader, we are also holding potential opponents at bay, ensuring strong national security. With the trade deal finalized, Republicans in Congress are more than ready to pass it.

The United Nations is projecting a major increase in population in the next 30 years, which could cause the need for food to increase by up to 95 percent. It is more important than ever to protect the nearly 400,000 Missourians employed by our state's agriculture industry. I'm a proud member of the Missouri Farm Bureau — the oldest Farm Bureau in the country. I'm also honored to be the recipient of their 2019 "Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award." As a farmer myself, I am so appreciative of this often challenging but extremely rewarding industry. American farmers and ranchers are, and continue to be, an integral part of our national identity, and I will continue to be a strong voice for the agriculture industry here in Congress.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 573-635-7232.

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