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One Man Can Change the World – The Legacy of Norman Borlaug in the Halls of Congress

Dr. Norman Borlaug’s work and vision changed the world

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Washington, DC, Mar 26 | comments
Borlaug’s work in agriculture saved hundreds of millions of people from famine and starvation. Norman Borlaug is one of the most accomplished Iowans in the history of our state I was ready to work with any of Iowa’s elected leaders to move the process to honor Dr. Borlaug forward and grant him this well-deserved honor.
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He lived the Iowa values of hard work and innovation and his fight against world hunger will continue to improve lives around the globe for generations to come. It is a great pleasure and honor to call Dr. Borlaug a friend, who is now honored with his statue placed in National Statuary Hall. I have consistently strived to honor this great man. However, none of this happened overnight; the effort to honor Dr. Borlaug in our nation’s Capital began back in 2006 and it has never been difficult describing how deserving Dr. Borlaug is, he's been working hard his whole life.

Borlaug grew up in rural Cresco and attended the University of Minnesota where he received his bachelor’s, masters and Ph.D. He worked in Forestry and Microbiology before he started his work developing crops that increased yields and resisted disease. Borlaug’s advancements in crop production helped him become known as the “Father of the Green Revolution.” The Green Revolution was a time when drastically increased crop yields over a short period of years helped alleviate world hunger.

Borlaug’s work in agriculture saved hundreds of millions of people from famine and starvation. In 1970 he was given a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts and is still the only person to receive this honor from working in agriculture. It is said that Borlaug saved more lives than any other person in history. Borlaug served as the Chairman of the Council of Advisors for the World Food Prize. The World Food Prize presents a $250,000 award each October at an international ceremony in Des Moines, to the Laureate who has made an exceptional achievement similar to Borlaug’s breakthrough forty years ago.

In 2006, Senator Chuck Grassley and I introduced a resolution in the Senate and the House to honor Dr. Norman Borlaug with a Congressional Gold Medal. The Congressional Gold Medal has been given since the American Revolution and is Congress’ highest expression of appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Dr. Norman Borlaug is an American superhero that few people have heard of and he was well deserving of this award. Congress commissioned the U.S. Mint to design and create the medal specifically honoring Dr. Borlaug and was awarded in 2007.

In 2009, Dr. Borlaug passed away. As a way for us to honor his legacy, I wrote a letter calling on the Iowa Legislature and governor to begin the required procedures for a Dr. Norman Borlaug statue to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol. I also asked the six other members of the Iowa delegation in the U.S. Congress to sign the letter.

An act of Congress in 1864 allows each state to provide two statues of notable citizens for display in the Capitol. In 2000, Congress passed legislation allowing states to replace the statues if a resolution to do so is approved by a state’s legislature and governor. Norman Borlaug is one of the most accomplished Iowans in the history of our state I was ready to work with any of Iowa’s elected leaders to move the process to honor Dr. Borlaug forward and grant him a place in National Statuary Hall.

In 2011, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed the joint Borlaug statue resolution and a copy was sent to the Architect of the Capitol. In 2012, The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced that the state-appointed Dr. Norman E. Borlaug statue committee selected artist Benjamin Victor to create a sculpture of Dr. Borlaug for display in the U.S. Capitol. This past week was the 100th Anniversary of Dr. Borlaug’s birth (March 25th) and the day we dedicated and celebrated the unveiling of his statue in National Statuary Hall.

I greatly appreciate the work of Dr. Norman Borlaug. The continued work of my Congressional staff, Senator Chuck Grassley and his staff, and the Iowa Delegation played a large part in supporting the resolution that started in my office. I applaud the Iowa State Legislature and Governor Branstad for passing the Joint Resolution and commissioning the statue creation.

On the 25th of March, 2014 we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug with a statue in National Statuary Hall that will stand as long as the Republic. To see my efforts come together over these many years is heartening. I can think of no better man, no more deserving Iowan, to be honored like this.
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