Celebrate the abundance of agriculture
When I was growing up, it seemed so simple to know exactly what agriculture provides society. Granted I grew up on a crop and livestock farm in central Minnesota to help bolster my knowledge.
I guess I had the inside scoop on many facets of agriculture that have served me well throughout my life. Through 4-H, FFA and other programs, I helped educate others about farming.
But as time marches on, I’m seeing a disturbing trend. Family farms are no longer what they once were and perhaps even scarier is that more people are isolated from what happens on the farm.
As generations are becoming removed from the farm, it becomes even more necessary to help people understand how their food, clothing and other products get from the farm to the table or their homes.
American agriculture plays a very critical economic and food security role in our country. We need to increase the public awareness of what agriculture does for every single person in the world.
March 20 is National Ag Day. This marks the 45th anniversary of the special day, which is celebrated in classrooms and communities. In addition, the entire week is celebrated as National Ag Week.
It’s a great time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture, especially in southeastern Minnesota, the heart of Midwestern agriculture.
From beef and pork to cotton and corn, agriculture gives us the very necessities of life.
To give you an idea of how robust agriculture is, Minnesota ag is showing no sign of slowing down. There are nearly 75,000 farms spread across 26 million acres of land, as well as 1,000 agricultural and food companies. The industry contributes $75 billion to the state’s economy each year.
Minnesota makes an impact across the country with several top crops. The state ranks third in the nation in total crops cash receipts, and breaks the top 10 in a number of different commodities, including sugar beets, oats, sweet corn and green peas for processing, wild rice, soybeans and many more. Soybeans, corn and wheat are Minnesota’s top exports, heading across the globe to top markets in China, Japan and Mexico.
About 5.3 billion bushel of corn is used for U.S. ethanol production. There are approximately 200 operating ethanol plants in the U.S., including one in Claremont, producing just over 15 billion gallons of ethanol, which is a valuable U.S. fuel source.
The U.S. farmer of today produces enough food and fiber for over 160 people. This compares to 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960 and 115 people in 1980.
Farmers receive just over 17 cents of every consumer dollar that is spent on food. The other 83 cents is spent of processing, packaging, marketing, transportation, distribution and other costs associated with the retail food supply.
National Ag Day helps all of us appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products. It also shows the value of the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
Agriculture is big business, and we all need to go in hot pursuit of valuing what farmers do to make our lives easier.