NATIONAL AG MUSEUM?

Dear Dr. Glass and Dr. Daniel,

In December I visited the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of American History. My interest was to see how you related the history of agriculture and its ever-changing impact on American life since I am a family farmer in Bureau County, north-central Illinois.

I was very disappointed to find that you do not have any agricultural exhibit in your Museum of American History on the National Mall. I question how you can tell America's story without this critical aspect of our history and the recognition of agriculture as it is critical to the well-being of our nation.

Since the very beginning of the colonization of America, farming and agriculture have been an essential part of American life. There were farmers who signed the Declaration of Independence; our first president, George Washington considered himself a farmer, and many who followed him in office were involved with agriculture. Even the Civil War had connections to agriculture. Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation to form the Department of Agriculture and establish our land-grant universities. George Washington Carver, John Deere, Norman Borlaug, mechanization, hybridization and biotechnology are but a few names that have a rich agricultural history in America.

Agriculture is still important and relevant in our lives today. Farmers provide food, fiber and fuel that are essential to our population. Our world is certainly changing, but we are still fed by the farmers who work many hours to provide a safe and affordable food supply. Many in our nation are generations removed from the farm, with little firsthand knowledge of food production. Modern tillage methods are conserving our topsoils for future generations, and modern seeds increase the food supply for the U.S. and provide greatly needed nutrition for the world's undernourished. Thanks to modern techniques, farmers are able to increase production and do so in a sustainable manner while protecting the environment.

Agriculture deserves a place at your table. As a farmer, may I offer to help in any way I can to make an agricultural exhibit a reality? I know an exhibit could inform and delight visitors for years to come.
Sharon Coven
Tiskilwa, IL


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