Farmers across the country are commemorating South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who died this Sunday at the age of 90.
While best known for his landslide defeat at the hands of Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election, McGovern had long been an advocate for rural Americans and a defender of the farm sector. In particular, McGovern’s childhood in South Dakota during the Great Depression shaped his attitude towards American farmers.
In his 1977 autobiography, McGovern recalled traveling through South Dakota. “One day as we drove into his farmyard we saw Art sitting on the steps of his back porch, tears streaking down his dusty face. I had seldom seen an adult cry. Art Kendall explained to my dad that he had just received a check from the stockyards for a year’s production of pigs. The check did not cover the cost of trucking the pigs to market.”
During his time in the House of Representatives and the Senate, McGovern served in agriculture committees and helped shape major pieces of American farm policy. McGovern was a major backer of legislation that helped create the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Grain Inspection Service, authored a bill to create a livestock credit guarantee program, and fought for rural electrification.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined a host of American politicians praising McGovern. “He championed our efforts as a nation to help hungry people, especially children, around the world,” Vilsack said, “leading the way on U.S. food assistance efforts that carry on today under his name and that of his friend, former Senator Bob Dole. As we honor Senator McGovern’s life, I know that his legacy will impact millions of people in the years to come.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer