As the sun rises on National Ag Day, a farmer has already tended to his animals, turned the soil, kicked a few tires and said a silent prayer that they can continue to be the caretaker of animals and plants that feed, clothe and fuel the world.
Agriculture has built this nation, evolving from the days of the Native Americans teaching the pilgrims to live off the land to modern technology and practices of today’s agriculture feeding the world. The United States’ history is well documented in the valuable contributions of agriculture — some measured in dollars and others appraised in non-monetary values.
Today, only 2% of Americans earn the title of farmer through sweat, tears and sheer determination. Yet, an entire community pulls together to convert raw products grown on 2 million U.S. farms into valuable products people use every day without a second thought.
Every day members of the agriculture tribe hail the industry’s many contributions but on National Agriculture Day we celebrate at full volume.
- We honor the fact that generations of families work hard to produce abundant, affordable and safe food. U.S. consumers spend the least amount of its household income on food compared to the rest of world.
- We praise U.S. agriculture for working together in enhancing and improving technology and practices that allow one farm to feed 168 people in 2017 versus 19 in 1940 which means farmers and ranchers produce more on less land and with fewer resources.
- We say thank you to the agriculture community for contributing an average of $170 billion annually to the U.S. gross domestic product. Over 23% of raw U.S. farm products are exported every year. In 2015, a $133 billion worth of agriculture products was shipped overseas.
- We applaud agriculture for employing 24 million American workers or 17% of the total workforce.
On America’s pig farms, we specifically highlight
- Nationwide, more than 60,000 pork producers annually market more than 110 million hogs, producing nearly 22 billion pounds of pork each year.
- The pork industry supports about 550,000 jobs.
- An estimated $22.3 billion of personal income is supported by the swine business, adding $39 billion to GDP.
- U.S. animal agriculture is only responsible for 2.5% of total U.S. emissions. Of that total, pork farmers were responsible for about one-third of 1%.
- Pig farms are more efficient. In 1959, it took eight pigs to produce 1,000 pounds of pork. Today, it takes just five pigs.
- Pig farms are more sustainable than ever. Based on 50 years of data, today’s U.S. pig farmers use 78% less land, 41% less water and 35% smaller carbon footprint to produce one pound of pork.
On National Ag Day and every day, I invite everyone to explore beyond the walls of a retail store or food establishment, and learn how the raw farm products are transformed into common items that shape your world as human being.
Before National Ag Day comes to an end, please say thank you to everyone in agriculture, celebrate the industry’s incredible contributions to your life and accept this open invitation as a consumer to learn more about the world of farming directly from a farmer or rancher.
Sources: American Farm Bureau, USDA Economic Research Service, National Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board.