Obama says his farewell; Merrigan comments
January 11, 2017
In the beginning and end of his last farewell speech in Chicago Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama mentioned farmers and homesteaders, but the rest of his speech was devoted to his accomplishments and concerns about the future.
Obama said, "Tonight, it's my turn to say thanks. Whether we've seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man."
And in the last paragraph of his speech, he concluded, "I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can."
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The rest of his speech on his accomplishments did not focus on agriculture, food or rural America, even though most of the Obama years were some of the prosperous for agriculture in the nation's history, and First Lady Michelle Obama's kitchen garden and her campaign against childhood obesity were key parts of the administration's agenda.
Meanwhile, Kathleen Merrigan, the first Agriculture deputy secretary in the administration and the developer of the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative," released a copy of her resignation letter noting her pride in working for Obama.
Merrigan, now the director of sustainability at George Washington University and of its Food Institute, sent a copy of the handwritten letter to subscribers of the Food Institute website.
She also posted her writing on the impact of President-elect Donald Trump's lateness in choosing an Agriculture secretary on her own experience with appointments and transitions and another article by Michael Fernandez, a senior fellow at the institute, on what's next in food policy.
–The Hagstrom Report