Like many children born during the Great Depression, my generation embraced thrift and responsible stewardship of limited resources. In my household, a penny saved was considered a penny earned. We recycled long before it became politically popular to go green.

During the Great Depression, international trade plummeted. Farm prices fell by up to 60 percent. The global economy suffered a free fall of prices, profits and prosperity. The shrinking economic situation and dismal unemployment rates paved a path of protectionism, nationalism and isolationism among the world community of nations.

Despite the world’s economic gloom and doom, I grew up on an Iowa farm in the l930s with an inherent sense of neighbor-helping-neighbor. A strong moral code of social responsibility, fiscal conservatism, environmental stewardship and economic opportunity bloomed into a politica1 philosophy I pursue to this day from the policymaking tables in the United States Senate.

From renewable energy to sustainable agriculture and free trade, my rural roots compel me to protect the Earth’s natural resources that regenerate the rich fields and maintain the purity of waterways for generations yet to come. Global food security is the fundamental lynchpin to world peace.

Living in the land of plenty offers Americans ample opportunity for prosperity and awesome responsibility to share our blessings with those whose lives are challenged by homelessness, poverty, disease, hunger and oppression. Geopolitical barriers and despotic regimes restrict the free flow of goods, capital and ideas. Protectionism widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots by increasing costs for consumers. International trade is the anchor to global prosperity. Allowing the global marketplace to meet supply and demand can serve humanity for the greater good – a rising tide to lift all boats. Consider that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. Turning our backs on our international friends and neighbors would turn back the clock and seriously jeopardize economic prosperity and geopolitical relationships.

As the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, which bears legislative jurisdiction for international trade agreements, I have long worked to advance international trade relations as a pathway to peace and prosperity for the global community.  What’s more, I understand commercial relationships build strong humanitarian relationships.

When Iowa struggled to recover during the farm crisis of the mid-l980s, I launched an effort to showcase Iowa’s people, products and places to the world community. Since 1986, I have hosted an international delegation of guests to tour Iowa every other year. We visit business and industry, academic institutions, cultural attractions and Main Street businesses.

Our international guests aren’t surprised by Iowa’s agricultural abundance. Many are enlightened by Iowa’s high-tech and research industries. Virtually all leave Iowa with an overwhelming appreciation for the personal relationships formed during their visits with Iowa workers, families and business leaders.

During these “11 Days of Global Unity,” I applaud the grassroots efforts of Iowans who are committed to raising awareness among their friends and neighbors. As Iowa’s senior U.S. senator and a family farmer I join you – through prayer and policymaking – to advance a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Contributed by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley