U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield awarded Air Tractor today for their role in the war on drugs, saying the company is key in reducing drug production and the violence that surrounds it around the world.
Brownfield asked Air Traffic employees, "Thirty or 40 years from now when you're sitting at home and your grandchildren ask you, 'What did you do in Olney, Granddaddy? Grandmommy?"
Brownfield says air tractor employees have strengthened the worldwide fight against drugs by developing a plane that uses the concept of crop dusting to to kill coca, a main ingredient used in cocaine production, in Colombia.
"You do not just have to say, 'I sat around and worked in a job for a couple of years,'" Brownfield says. "'You can say instead, 'I built airplanes, but I didn't just build airplanes. The planes that I built removed tons, hundreds of tons of potential cocaine from the world market.'"
Brownfield says air tractor planes have helped eliminate two-thirds of coca cultivation in Colombia, which, thanks to the technology, is no longer the world's leading producer of the drug, and weakening the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC's, hold on the country.
"The people who work for Air Tractor here in Olney have played an important role in forcing this repulsive, repugnant, violent, homicidal terrorist organization to come to the table," Brownfield says.
An accomplishment Brownfield says will ultimately lead to Olney making a footprint worldwide: potentially ending 45 years of FARC-caused violence and misery for the 48 million people of Colombia.
"We asked you for a miracle and we said, 'Could you please deliver this miracle in two or three months time?' And the answer was yes"
Here's an idea of just how big an impact Air Tractor planes have on drug production in the world: the work done by those planes takes about 100 tons of pure cocaine off the streets per year.
That equates to $6-trillion worth of the drug.
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