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Commemorating an Ag Legend

Jeff Caldwell 03/25/2014 @ 10:17am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

In a fitting celebration for National Agriculture Day, lawmakers, ag and food leaders gathered at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to unveil a new statue of Dr. Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner and "Father of the Green Revolution." This year marks the 100th birthday of the Cresco, Iowa, native who passed away in September 2009.

The occasion's not just a fitting celebration of the wheat breeder and agronomy pioneer credited with saving 1 billion lives through the development of semi-dwarf wheat varieties with improved standability, heartiness, and nutrient utilization that allowed the crop to enter impoverished regions of the world where it was most needed. Rather, it's also a time to call upon the current scientific community to embody Dr. Borlaug's vision of collaboration and hunger for solutions that many see as critical to peace around the world.

"A lot has been said about Norman Borlaug the educator and scientist and man who deserves extraordinary acknowledgements," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday during the statue's unveiling at the Capitol. "If Norm was here today, he'd want someone else to be up here. As great as he was, as visionary as he was, he needed partners. And those partners were farmers in the United States and in other countries. Norm understood they had to be convinced."

Borlaug's vision of the "summit" of genetic crop science and agronomy was not just his study, but his passion, Vilsack added, and he took it upon himself to take that a step further. And today, that's critical to the continuation of the kind of research that can build on Borlaug's work.

"Norm felt the responsibility to show those below what he'd seen at the summit. So, this is extraordinarily fitting on this Agriculture Day," Vilsack said during the Borlaug statue's unveiling. "The challenge as this statue is unveiled is to find the summit and make sure those below can see the same vision of a peaceful, well-fed world."

Editor's note: Photos by Betsy Freese.


Watch the dedication live here!

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