National Ag Week is being celebrated March 16-22 all across the U.S., and Thursday, March 20, has been designated National Ag Day. It is a good time to reflect on all the traditions and advancements that help make the U.S. agriculture industry second to none!
Following are some interesting statistics about today’s agriculture industry:

· The top five agriculture products in the U.S. are cattle and calves, dairy products, broilers, corn and soybeans.
The U.S. produces 46% of the world’s soybeans, 41% of the world’s corn, 20% of the world’s cotton and 13% of the world’s wheat.

· It takes the average American about 35 days to earn enough disposable income to pay for all the food that is consumed at home and away from home during the entire year.
By comparison, it takes consumers more than 100 days of earned income to pay all federal, state and local taxes each year.

· About 19¢ of every consumer dollar spent on food actually goes to the farmer.
The other 81¢ is spent on processing, packaging, marketing, transportation, distribution and retail costs.

· One acre of wheat will yield about 35 bu./acre and will produce about 1,960 loaves of bread – about 56 loaves of bread/bu. of wheat.
A three-fold increase in the price paid to a farmer for a bushel of wheat from $4/bu. to $12/bu. only increases the wheat cost for a loaf of bread by 14¢/loaf.

· The U.S. agriculture industry employs more than 22 million Americans to produce, process, sell and trade the nation’s food and fiber.
This represents approximately 16-17% of the total U.S. workforce.

· The soil erosion rate on U.S. cropland has declined by over 40% since 1982.
Today, conservation tillage methods are utilized on approximately 103 million acres of the total of 281 million crop acres in the U.S.

· Fresh beef sold at the retail meat counter in the U.S. has 27% less fat content than 20 years ago.
Today, an average pork tenderloin only has about 1 gram more fat than a skinless chicken breast, which is considered among the leanest of meat products.

· One dairy cow produces enough each day for 7 gal. of fluid milk, 2.9 lbs. of butter and 6 lbs. of cheese.
This daily production is accomplished by the dairy cow’s average daily consumption of 35 gal. of water, 35 lbs. of hay and silage and 20 lbs. of grain and concentrates.

· Today’s modern combines, harvest about 900 bu. corn/hour, or 100 bu. every 7 minutes.
By comparison, in the 1930s, before modernized harvesting equipment, a farmer would harvest about 100 bu. of corn in a 9-hour day.

· Some other interesting facts regarding today’s farmer:

  • The average U.S. farmer produces enough food and fiber for about 150 people. This number was 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960 and 115 people in 1980.
  • 99% of all U.S. farms are family farm businesses owned by individuals, partnerships and family corporations. These family based farm enterprises account or about 94% of all the U.S. agricultural products that are sold each year.
  • The average age of the U.S. farmer is 55 years.
  • From 1997 to 2002, the number of farms operated by women increased by 12.6%.
  • There are 2.13 million farms in the U.S. today. This compares to a high of 6.8 million farms in 1930, 4 million farms in 1960 and 2.4 million farms in 1980.
  • Today, about 65% of farms have computers, and over half of all farms have Internet access. Almost 90% of farmers use cell phones.

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.