Monday, March 22, 2010

National Ag Day

Saturday was the first day of spring for the majority of the country and in South Carolina we enjoyed a beautiful day.  For those of us involved in agriculture and for those of you who are not but enjoy 3 square meals a day, it was also National AG Day.  National AG Day is a day we celebrate those who till the soil, feed the livestock and help provide us with the safest, most abundant and affordable food supply in the world.  For those of you who think that agriculture doesn't affect your life...let's look at some facts.

World Population Growth Is Creating Needs For Food And Fiber


 
  • World population is at 6.2 billion today, and is expected to reach 7.5 billion by the year 2020.
  • There will be millions of new mouths to feed, many of whom rely on United States food production to meet this need.

 
The United States Is Best Positioned To Meet This Growing Need

  •  Agriculture is America's #1 export.
  • About 17% of raw U.S. agriculture products are exported yearly.
  • The United States is out front in technological advances.
  • U.S. farmers and ranchers produce more than 200 raw commodities yearly for domestic and export markets.
  • In 1999, one farmer produced enough food to feed about 144 people each day.
  • Agriculture generates 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
  • One-fourth of the world's beef and nearly one-fifth of the world's grain, milk and eggs are produced in the U.S.
  • The United States exports $43.5 billion in agriculture products and important $26.4 billion in farm products, equaling a positive net trade balance of $17.1 billion.
  • One in three U.S. farm acres is planted for export, and 25 percent of gross farm income comes directly from exports.
  • Through research and changes in production practices, today's food producers are providing Americans with the widest variety of foods ever.
  • Research and advancements in biotechnology are now in the marketplace with tastier fruits and vegetables that stay fresh longer and are not damaged by insects.
  • Consumers derive health benefits from changes in farm production including less fat in meat and longer lasting fresh fruits and vegetables. As well, tofu, a soybean product, has been shown to reduce the risk of some cancer and heart disease.
  • For every hour, the U.S. exports $6 million worth of agricultural products.

 Technology Leads The Way In Today's Agricultural Production

 
  • Precision farming boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
  • Sophisticated Global Positioning Systems can be specifically designed for spraying herbicides and pesticides. A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect and then sends a signal to a pump to spray a preset amount of herbicide onto the weed.
  • Biogenetics is another technology that is being utilized in crop production. A particular trait is implanted directly into the seed to protect the seed against certain pests.
  • Artificial insemination of livestock is producing more and better meat supplies.
  • Farmers are utilizing 4-wheel drive tractors with up to 300 horsepower requiring fewer passes across fields - saving energy and time.
  • Huge combines are speeding the time it takes to harvest crops.
  • With modern methods, one acre of land in the U.S. (about the size of a football field) can produce: 42,000 lbs. of strawberries, 11,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs. of cotton lint.

 America is Producing Not Only More Food, but Higher Quality and Lower Cost

 
  • Two out of every three bushels of corn in the world originate in the United States.
  • In 2001, 45% of the world's soybeans were grown in the United States.
  • American consumers spend the lowest percentage of their annual income on food - just 9.3 percent.
  • Nearly 19 billion pounds of pork - the most widely eaten meat - were processed in 2001.
  • Cotton is by the far the most dominant fiber produced in the United States and is used for apparel, home fabrics as well as industrial uses.

 Fertilizers and Pesticides Contribute to Increases in Production

 
  • Crop protection products have tripled the output of resource-intensive food, like cooking oil, meat, fruits and vegetables.
  • Crop protection products have doubled the production of world food calories since 1960.
  • Without synthetic crop production chemicals, American farmers cannot feed the world.

 Farmers are Good Stewards of the Land and Environment

 
  • Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists, maintaining and improving the soil and natural resources to pass on to future generations.
  • Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
  • Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
  • Countour farming, planting crops on hillsides instead of up and down, keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the United States are managed this way.
  • Cattle ranchers and others control water run-off with sod waterways and diversions, erosion control structures and catch basins.
  • Just as urban families recycle grass, newspaper and aluminum, farm families have practiced recycling for a long time by applying manure to fields to replace nutrients in the soil.
  • Food service food scraps are used to make animal feed.
  • Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation's wildlife.
Now National AG day has passed for 2010 however each day you still enjoy the fruits of the labor and love that each America farmer has given.  So please take a moment and tell a farmer thank you!