Agriculture; it 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 our sources for 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 animals and does so 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:
• 99 percent of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Just 1 peercent of farms in the US are owned by Non-family Corporations.
• The term “farm bill” is really a misleading title to the USDA budget of $155 billion. In the USDA’s Budget only 16 percent of it goes to agriculture programs. Over 71 percent of their budget is for food assistance and nutrition programs.
• In Ohio 1 in 7 jobs are employed in the food and agriculture industry. It also accounts for over $105 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 dynamic in 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 nations 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 with the markets, evolving governmental policies and changing consumer demand is 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 do 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, Shelby 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 Burea: www.fb.org
The writer is the Ohio Farm Bureau’s organization director for Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties.