Agriculture. It is a word that can mean many things to many people. It means food to our consumers, to farmers it means their livelihood, to businesses it means goods to create their services and to Ohio and the United States it means jobs, industry, and growth. Most of all agriculture means our sources of food, fiber, and goods to make our lives better.
In the United States, the agriculture industry makes up less than 2 percent of the population. It is a diverse industry that grows conventional, biotech and organic crops. It also is very specialized in the production of animals and does so on big, medium or small sized farms and ranches. Agriculture may be a small part of our population, but it is growing, changing and evolving almost daily.
To celebrate National Ag Week, March 19-24, let’s look at a few facts about U.S. and Ohio agriculture industries.
· Americans pay the least for food around the world. In the U.S. consumers spend just 10% of their disposable income on food each year while, countries like Mexico, India and the Philippines spend up to 42%.
· Ninety-nine percent of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Just 1% of farms in the US are owned by Non-family Corporations.
· The term “farm bill” is really a misleading title to the USDA budget of $155 billion. In the USDA’s Budget, only 16% of it goes to agriculture programs. Over 71% of their budget is for food assistance and nutrition programs.
· In Ohio one in seven jobs are employed in the food and agriculture industry. It also accounts for over $105 billion dollars for our state.
These facts are great and they show the diversity of what the agriculture industry is and how it evolves. What it doesn’t show is the changing dynamic in how our industry is responding to the consumer and their needs. Agriculturalists today are evolving to new industry standards when it comes to growing their food, they are specializing in their products and are opening their doors to let our customers see what goes into getting food to our nations plates. They have changed animal husbandry practices, how they sow and grow their seeds and the products they use to grow food to be more transparent and provide assurance of our safe food sources.
Changing with the markets, evolving governmental policies and changing consumer demand is all a part of a business that is dependent on Mother Nature’s whims, rising costs and the loss of market share. Many ask, why do farmers do it? Most of the time it is simple, farmers have a passion for growing food, raising animals and being a part of a vital part of their communities. Most of all they cherish the life spent providing growth for their families and our nation.
During National Agriculture Week, the Farm Bureau asks you to thank our farm families who are a part of this great industry.
Want to learn more about agriculture? Check out these great websites.
Best Food Facts: helps dispel food myths:
Learn more about Genetically Modified Organism and why we use them:
US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance tackle all kinds of agriculture and food production questions:
Ohio Farm Bureau-what is happening in Ohio agriculture
www.ofbf.org and togetherwithfarmers.org
American Farm Bureau
Jill Smith is organization director for Ohio Farm Bureau serving Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties.
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