Agriculture: Growing, Evolving, and Providing
By Jill Smith, Organization Director Ohio Farm Bureau
Serving: Auglaize, Logan, Mercer & Shelby Counties
Agriculture; is a word that can mean many things to many people. It means food to our consumers, to farmers it means their livelihood, to businesses it means goods to create their services and to Ohio and the United States, it means jobs, industry, and growth. Most of all agriculture means food, fiber, and goods to make our lives better.
In the United States, the agriculture industry makes up less than 2% of the population. It is a diverse industry that grows conventional, biotech, and organic crops. It also is very specialized in the production of these crops and animals which are grown on big, medium, or small-sized farms and ranches. Agriculture may be a small part of our population, but it is growing, changing, and evolving almost daily.
To celebrate National Ag Week let’s look at a few facts about US and Ohio agriculture industries.
• Americans pay the LEAST for Food around the world. In the U.S. Consumers spend just 10% of their disposable income on food each year while, countries like Mexico, India, and the Philippines spend up to 52%.
• 98% of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships, or family corporations. Just 2% of farms in the US are owned by Non-family Corporations.
• The term “farm bill” is really a misleading title for the USDA budget, in the USDA’s Budget only 20% of it goes to agriculture programs. Over 71% of their budget is for food assistance and nutrition programs.
• In Ohio 1 in 8 jobs are employed in the food and agriculture industry. It also accounts for over $124 billion dollars for our state.
These facts are great and they show the diversity of what the agriculture industry is and how it evolves, what it doesn’t show is the changing dynamics of how our industry is responding to the consumer and their needs. Agriculturalists today are evolving to new industry standards when it comes to growing their food, they are specializing in their products and are opening their doors to let our customers see what goes into getting food to our nation’s plates. They have changed animal husbandry practices, how they sow and grow their seeds, and the products they use to grow food to be more transparent and provide assurance of our safe food sources.
Changing the markets, evolving governmental policies, and changing consumer demand are all a part of a business that is dependent on Mother Nature’s whims, rising costs, and the loss of market share. Many ask, why farmers do it. Most of the time it is simple, farmers have a passion for growing food, raising animals, and being a part of a vital part of their communities. Most of all they cherish the life spent providing growth for their families and our nation.
During National Agriculture Week, the County Farm Bureau asks you to thank our farm families who are a part of this great industry.
Want to learn more bout agriculture? Check out these great websites.
• Best Food Facts: helps dispel food myths: BestFoodFacts.org
• Learn more about Genetically Modified Organism and why we use them: www.gmoanswers.com
• US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance tackle all kinds of agriculture and food production questions: www.fooddialogues.com
• Ohio Farm Bureau-what is happening in Ohio agriculture: www.ofbf.org and togetherwithfarmers.org
• American Farm Bureau: www.fb.org
The writer is the Ohio Farm Bureau’s organization director for Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties.