Really? We have a day for everything nowadays.
WHY SHOULD WE CELEBRATE AGRICULTURE? Let’s reflect on what this day observes.
Farm and ranch families are only 2 percent of the United States population; in other terms, 210,000 full-time farmers are producing 80 percent of our food supply. That’s a lot of pressure relying on a small population.
Of the 2 million farms gracing America, from the flyover states in the Midwest to the wineries of the Pacific Northwest to the strawberry farms in the humid South, 97 percent are owned by hardworking, passionate families. From small, family farms to family-owned corporations, farmers like to keep it in the family. Like most family-owned businesses, farming traditions span generations intertwining itself into the genetic makeup of many American families. At its core, it’s truly the American dream.
Safe, Affordable Food
“American farmers raise the safest, most affordable food in the world.” This phrase is often used to articulate the importance of our food system to consumers, but has its meaning lost merit?
Since 1960, technology has afforded the ability to feed 129 more people per farm. Yes, that’s an increase from 26 to 155. Through advancements in technology farmers are raising more food on less land, talk about an accomplishment. U.S. farmers provide 18 percent of the world’s food with only 10 percent of the world’s land.
Additionally, Americans spend only 10 percent of their annual income on food, which is lower than any other country. We’re fortunate, as Americans, not to worry about food choices. In fact, we have one of the most diverse food markets in the world. While access is not consistent across the country, it’s not difficult to imagine having to choose between grocery stores in urban settings.
Production agriculture provides more than 24 million jobs. That’s six times more than the auto industry.
Farmers contribute 34 billion dollars to the trade surplus. For example, in 2010 $115 billion of American agricultural products were exported around the world. Thirty-one percent of American farm’s gross income is derived from exports. Not only do we feed America, but we also feed the world.
What Does It Mean?
I often see these statistics working in the agriculture industry, but what do they mean? To me it means we are on the right track, and with technology and hard work we will continue to feed the world.
Recently farmers have come under a new blitz of questions about how food is grown, making some farmers defensive about their livelihoods. The agriculture industry is facing more criticism than ever before and we are still learning how to deliver our message.
Agriculturalist, let’s join together. Let’s tell our stories. We’re doing great things through innovative technologies that are allowing us to implement more efficient practices and make tangible changes in the world. On this National Ag Day let’s celebrate hard work and innovation, celebrate the food choices we have and make a promise to start having civil, respectful and educated conversations about the agriculture industry.