As we come to the conclusion of National Ag Week I would like to share a couple of things that took place during this week. Tuesday, March 25 not only was National Ag Day celebrated, but also the 100th birthday of Norman Borlaug. He is considered the founder of the Green Revolution, which uses science and technology to advance agriculture and alleviate world hunger.
Personally, I was able to celebrate National Ag Day with an amazing group of farm women (I think I am the old woman of the group!). We represent a great variety of personalities, agricultural backgrounds, and farms from across the state of Iowa with one enormous thing in common and that is our passion to have conversations about food in order to help consumers base food choices on facts and not fear. CommonGround.
One way to find out facts about food production is to experience your very own day on an Iowa farm. You have the opportunity to do such a thing by registering to visit a farm for a day through Iowa Food and Family’s You on the Farm. You must register by Monday, March 31st. Three years ago we were honored to host the Davis family.
In honor of National Ag Week, I ‘ll end with some interesting statistics about today’s agriculture industry.
- The 2012 Census of Agriculture listed a total of 2.1 million farms in the U.S. Overall, U.S. farm numbers have generally been declining since World War II; however, numbers have been more stable since 1992.
- There was a total 915 million acres of land in farms in the U.S. in 2012. This total land in farms declined by less than one percent from the 2007 total, which was the third smallest decline between ag census years since 1950. The average U.S. farm size in 2012 was 434 acres.
- In 2012, the average age of U.S. farm operators in 2012 was 58.3 years old. This compares to 57.1 years old in 2007, and continues a 30-year trend of an increasing average age of U.S. farm operators. The number of farm operators over 65 years old grew significantly from 2007 to 2012, while the number of operators under 35 years old remained steady.
- About 1 million farm operators (48%) reported farming as their primary occupation and source of family income in 2012. This was an increase of about 3% from 2007. There were 469,138 U.S. farm operators with less than 10 years of experience, and about 172,000 had less than five years on the farm.
- There was a total of $394.6 billion of agricultural sales in the U.S. in 2012, which was at a record level, and was about one-third higher than 2007. Crop sales in 2012 totaled $212.4 billion, while total livestock sales in 2012 were $182.2 billion. 2012 was only second time in the history of ag census data (since 1840) that total U.S. crop sales have exceeded total livestock sales. The other time was in 1974.
- The average agricultural sales per farm in the U.S. in 2012 was $187,093. There were 57,292 farms with total sales above $1 million per year in 2012, which was an increase of 42.5% from 2007; however, 1.6 million farms (75%) had total sales of less than $50,000 annually.
- The U.S. farmer of today produces enough food and fiber for approximately 160 people. This number was 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960, and 115 people in 1980.
- Farmers receive just under 16¢ of every consumer dollar that is spent on food. The other 84¢ is spent on processing, packaging, marketing, transportation, distribution and retail costs of the food supply.
- Following is the farmer’s share of some other common food products and the (estimated retail value) as of February 2014, based on USDA average prices: Bacon – 82¢/lb. ($6.06/lb.); sirloin steak – $2.17/lb. ($7.99/lb.); boneless ham – 82¢/lb. ($3.99/lb.); milk – $2/gal ($4.69/gal.); eggs – $1.10/doz. ($3.09/doz.); breakfast cereal – 6¢/box ($4.19/box); Potatoes – 46¢/5 lbs. ($5.49/5 lbs.); tomatoes – 58¢/lb. ($2.99/lb.).
(NOTE: Facts listed in this article are from USDA, National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau, and other sources.)
Have a great week!
P.S. Don’t forget to register for an experience on the farm sponsored by the Iowa Food and Family Project!