The Facts About Food and Agriculture

Viewpoints / The Zipline August 9, 2017

It seems most everyone has an opinion these days about what agriculture in America should look like and how our food should be grown. What’s often missing from the conversation about agriculture is facts. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture works to provide those facts and promote a more-informed discussion.

For example, did you know that we Americans spend just 10 percent of our income on food? People in other countries must spend more. Farmers and ranchers make up just 2 percent of our nation’s population, but one farm feeds 165 people each year. It takes less feed to produce the same amount of milk than it did 30 years ago, and farmers produce 360 percent more corn per acre than in 1950. Thanks to the growing productivity of America’s farmers and ranchers, America doesn’t have to depend on other nations to meet our most basic need.

Today, 99 percent of all U.S. farmers are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. That means just 1 percent of our farms and ranches are owned by non-family corporations.

Cropland erosion has gone down 44 percent since 1982, thanks to farmers’ environmental stewardship. Contrary to other sectors of the U.S. economy, our agricultural exports exceed ag imports, generating a positive trade balance of more than $20 billion a year and helping to make our entire economy stronger.

All of these statistics and many more are outlined in Food and Farm Facts, a publication from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. I hope you’ll consider getting a copy or two (or more!) and sharing it with students or members of your community.

There are a lot of glass-half-empty people out there who are quick to criticize today’s agriculture, but the facts tell a different story. We are blessed with abundant food, fiber and energy resources, and today’s family farmers and ranchers are continually working to be more productive and sustainable. The foundation is working to ensure more people get the facts and food and farming in America.

Zippy Duvall
President

Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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Starting a new farm often requires large capital investments to purchase or rent farmland, access farm equipment and set up storage facilities. Beginning farmers can expect to invest more than $800,000 in their farms in the first few years.

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Agriculture will be front and center in the recently launched North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Trade agreements have a good track record of opening international markets for U.S.-grown products by breaking down trade barriers and reducing tariffs that keep America’s farmers and ranchers from reaching new customers around the world.

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