Farmers have an extremely important job: feeding the world. Their jobs require them to work long, tiresome hours and battle tough economic and weather conditions, but most farmers and producers don’t see it that way. They have a deep passion and commitment to their work, and most say they wouldn’t trade their jobs for anything.
Although they rarely seek recognition, National Agriculture Day does just that. It’s a day to celebrate the contributions of all the farmers, ranchers, agencies and organizations that feed not only our nation, but the whole world. Since National Ag Day, on March 25, is just around the corner, I thought I’d share some interesting and little-known facts about the agriculture industry.
There are 2.2 million farms in America, and around 97 percent of them are family owned and operated. Still, despite those staggering numbers, farm families only make up 2 percent of the entire U.S. population.
All these farms are required to keep up with a fast-growing world, producing more food on the same amount, or in some cases, smaller sections of land. Thanks to modern advances in agricultural equipment, farmers are able to produce 262 percent more food than in 1950.
The most widely grown crop in America is corn, with around 84 million harvested acres per year, making the U.S. the largest producer of corn in the world. Corn doesn’t just feed people; it’s also a large component of animal feed and household products like candles and drywall.
Soybeans are the second largest crop grown in America at approximately 73.8 million harvested acres yearly. Soybeans are an extremely versatile crop and are used in many food products consumed by humans and animals. Like corn, soybeans and soybean oils are used in nonedible products like waterproof cement and soy diesel.
From the crops they produce, farmers export a staggering number of agricultural products. One third of all U.S. farm acres are planted for export. In 2010, America exported $115 billion worth of agricultural products.
Next time you open the fridge or walk through a grocery store, think of the farmers who dedicate their lives to making sure there is ample food for the world. Thank you, farmers, every day.
For more facts about the agriculture industry, visit the American Farm Bureau Federation’s website, at www.fb.org, or the Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov. Learn more about Ag Day at www.agday.org.
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