To the Editor:

I phoned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline July 24 at 888-674-6854 and spoke with Nirav Shah. We had a very pleasant conversation and I had the opportunity to share with him just how much America, and our peerless farmers and ranchers, means to me.

Within five miles of my humble rural home, are farms that produce alfalfa hay, corn, wheat, soybeans, dairy and beef as well as sheep and pork. The value of this place that I am so blessed to call home, is priceless to me.

Please note that my respect and admiration for American farmers and ranchers has only grown during my lifetime, having always been a part of my DNA and awareness.

In addition to our country’s matchless American natural resource providers, these farmers and ranchers own their farms and ranches, and homes; they are keenly aware of the importance of property rights and the privilege and honor it is to be part of feeding and clothing America and the world. This is never taken lightly, and the vast majority of these families are quietly going about their lives without seeking the spotlight.

I ask that you consider all these things when visiting your local grocery store or farm market. The great, honest and honorable people that spend their lives in service to such a heartfelt cause need to be understood and thanked for all they do. Most likely, they will be a bit embarrassed by this thanks from you, but it is so important to underpin your communication: You understand how important food and fiber are to your health and well-being and that of your family and friends

Julie Smithson