Monday, March 23, 2015

For The Love of Ag

By Katie Thomas, Project Associate

Sharing last week’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations was National Ag Day on March 18th, and while there may not have been any rivers dyed green in its honor, plenty of exciting events were held in communities across the country in honor and support of organizations, companies, and individuals working in agriculture. The Agriculture Council of America started the National Ag Day program in 1973 with the goal of increasing public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society. The program encourages every American to understand how food and fiber products are produced, the value agriculture adds to maintaining a strong economy, and to appreciate the role that agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, affordable products. With the world’s population expected to grow to 9.6 billion people by 2050, and to 401 million in the US, there will be a lot more mouths to feed over the next few decades. 

Here are some fun facts to know about agriculture in the United States. 

· 97% of the 2.1 million farms are family-owned 

· The average size of a farm is approximately 434 acres 

· Over 22 million people are employed in farm or farm-related jobs 

· On average, one farmer supplies food for nearly 150 people 

· 88% of all farms are small family farms 

· The average age of principal operators was 58.3 in 2012. 

· 18% of principal operators on family farms started within the last 10 years 

· In 2013, economic output from agriculture exports was estimated to be $320.3 billion 

· More than 1 million full-time jobs support agriculture’s export-related activities 

· China and Canada imported over $50 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2013 

· Every dollar of agricultural exports stimulated another $1.22 in business activity 

Agriculture is a vital part of a community’s local economy and plays a role in multiple business sectors, from agritourism to biotechnology. Employment opportunities related to agriculture also span across occupations and offer dozens of options outside the traditional role of a farmer, whether it’s the agricultural and food scientist doing research and development, the agribusiness professional providing financial assistance, or the mechanic working to ensure the necessary equipment continues to run smoothly. 

So in honor of the day, here’s to you, agriculture. Thank you for the food on our tables, the employment opportunities for our residents, and for the economic benefit you bring to our local communities. 

Note: Facts listed are from the USDA, the Census of Agriculture, and the Ag Council of America.