In such a fast-paced modern society, where our cattle are already in a lasagne ready meal for us, and where our vegetables sit neatly on a shelf, it is easy for a lot of us to forget where our food comes from. Let us pay tribute then, for just a moment, to the world of agriculture.
How many farmers are there in America?
In America, there are 2.2 million farms across the land. This seems like a huge number, but when compared to the overall population, farming families constitute just 2% of registered citizens. Farming is still a very family- based affair, in America, with 97% of the farms and ranches being family operated. These trades are passed on for generations, and it seems the traditions have not disappeared, although they might have been subject to change to keep up with modern society.
With modern days, come modern ways, and whilst the operation of the farms is still very much family orientated, there are now a whole host of other processes involved. From the farm to your table the food is produced, processed, packaged, marketed, transported, and distributed. This is where agriculture meets globalization.
How much money does the farmer receive for their product?
Wages need to be paid throughout all aspects of the industry, and materials bought for the production of the food. After all of the other costs, and with the involvement of all of the other aspects of the industry, farmers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food, of which there is $546 billion spent per year in America.
That’s more outrageous than a nomorerack scam! To top it off, they previously earned 31 cents per dollar in 1980, showing a downward trend, with less money for the families who actually produce the food, and more going towards the companies involved in turning it into a lasagne ready meal.
But the modern world has given the agriculture industry some undeniable benefits too.
How efficient is the modern day agriculture industry?
Well, compared with 1950, today’s farmers in America produce 262% more food, with 2% less input through resources, seeding, planting, and labour. In short, it is much, much, more efficient than it used to be.
Modern day technology, science, and research has provided much more effective machinery and methods for agriculture, such as satellite maps to match seed and fertilizer, to soil conditions. Lovers of the traditional methods don’t dismay. There are still little pockets of the old days, and if you stray into the rural sticks you might still catch a glimpse of a man scything a field.
Does modern education provide opportunities in agriculture?
It might have been hard to imagine getting an education in agriculture 50 years ago. Knowledge would be passed down from parents to children to grandchildren. Now agriculture is a valuable career choice, with a booming industry in America, and young enthusiasts are seeking to learn more about the industry. Agricultural giant Penn state reports a 40% increase in enrolment since 2004, and the education may not be constrained to ploughing fields; topics such as plant breeding, and genomics, show that the industry today is intrinsically linked with science and technology, leaving greater scope for education.
Is the Agricultural Industry Safe?
Despite all of the modern influence on this ancient industry one aspect seems destined to prevail; the lack of safety in agriculture. In 2010, 476 farmers died at work, or as a result of a work related injury. The main cause is tractor overturning. I’m not going to complain about the last trip to my dentist anymore. On top of this 243 people a day, in the agriculture industry in America, suffer from an injury that results in lost work time. Some 5% of these remain permanently impaired.
Perhaps next time we are tucking into our evening meal, we could give a moment to think of everything that goes into it. Behind every supermarket shelf there are hard working families of farmers, attempting to preserve the agricultural industry as they know it, whilst embracing agricultural industry of tomorrow.