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On Your Table Blog

August 10, 2021

Just the facts, ma'am

Just the facts, ma'am

Daniel Webster famously said, “When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.” 

While that was said a long time ago (Webster was a lawyer and a statesman who died in 1852) his statement rings true. Think what life would be like if you had to grow or raise all your own food, rather than go to the grocery store to buy what you want. The idea that farmers and ranchers grow and produce food so the rest of us can pursue other "dreams" is noble indeed.

American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture says that U.S. agriculture is a matter of national security:

"We have made astounding advancements in agriculture since colonial times. During colonial times one farmer fed four others. Today, one farmer produces food for 166 others. American agriculture is vital to our country! Consider the impact to not only the United States, but globally, if our food supply was interrupted or contaminated. The 2015 House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway shared, “Agriculture and national security are intertwined in many different ways — whether it is insuring that food is available to meet nutritional needs for both those within our own borders and those around the world, ensuring that food coming into our borders is disease- and pest-free, or guaranteeing that farmers and ranchers have the needed policy tools in place to continue producing food and fiber.”

Here are a few other interesting farm and food facts, courtesy of the AFB Foundation.

In the United States, farm and ranch families make up less than 2% of the population.

About 8% of U.S. farms market foods locally through avenues such as farmers’ markets, farm stands and food hubs.

Americans spend nearly $14 billion each year on food for holiday activities, with Independence Day shopping accounting for the most dollars spent.

Americans throw away an estimated 25% of the food they bring home each month.

By 2050, farmers and ranchers will have to grow about 70% more food than what is now produced in order to feed a growing population.

Total U.S. corn yield has increased by nearly 360% since 1950.

America’s farmers produce 965 billion pounds of grain, including corn, wheat, oats, rice, barley, rye and sorghum, each year.

There are about 3.4 million U.S. farm operators who work on 2 million farms.

Women make up 36% of the total number of farm operators, and 56 % of all farms have at least one female decision-maker.

The average farm size is 441 acres.

Today, 98% of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships, or family corporations.

Today, 87% of U.S. ag products sold are produced on family farms or ranches.