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2013 National Ag Week

Written by: Kent Thiesse

“National Ag Week” is being celebrated March 17-23 all across the United States, as well as in Minnesota, with Tuesday, March 19, being designated as “National Ag Day”.  As we celebrate “National Ag Week”, it is a good time to reflect on all the traditions and advancements that help make the U.S. agriculture industry second to none !


Following are some interesting statistics about today’s agriculture industry :

  • There are currently about 2.2 million farms in the United States (by USDA definition), with about 922 million acres in production, with an average farm size of about 450 acres.

There are approximately 375,000 farms in the U.S. with annual gross sales exceeding $100,000 per year, while those farms represent only about 17 percent of the total number of farms, they account for over 80 percent of the total sales of agricultural products each year.      

  • 95 percent of the farms and ranches are operated by farm families as individuals, as well as by family partnerships and family corporations, usually multi-generational.

According to recent data, it is estimated that 88 percent of the farms with over $1 million in annual gross sales are family-based farming operations.

  • The U.S. Agriculture Industry employs more than 21 million people to produce, process, sell, and trade the Nation’s food and fiber, or about 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Approximately 3.3 million people are directly involved in farming and ranching in the U.S.
  • Today there are over 300,000 women who are the primary managers of farm operations in the United States, which is an increase of nearly 30 percent in the past decade.

The number of African American, Hispanic, and American Indian farmers in the U.S. has also increased significantly in the past decade.

  • The sale of crops accounts for approximately 58 percent of the total gross receipts received by farmers in the United States, while the sale of livestock products is about 42 percent.

Each year, U.S. farmers and ranchers produce approximately 875 billion pounds of feed grains (corn, wheat, etc.), 222 billion pounds of oilseed crops (soybeans, sunflowers, etc.), 140 billion pounds of horticulture crops (fruits, vegetables, etc.), and 132 billion pounds of sugarbeets, cotton, and other crops. They also produce about 42 billion pounds of poultry, 26 billion pounds of beef, and 22 billion pounds of pork. All of these crops and livestock are produced, processed, and marketed more efficiently and much safer than a few decades ago.

  • It takes the average American less than 40 days to earn enough disposable income to pay for all the food that is consumed at home and away from home during the entire year.

By comparison, it takes consumers about 100 days of earned income to pay all Federal, State, and local taxes each year, and nearly 60 days of income to cover health insurance and medical costs.

  • The U.S. farmer of today produces enough food and fiber for approximately 155 people.

         This number was 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960, and 115 people in 1980.

  • Farmers receive just under 16 cents of every consumer dollar that is spent on food.   

      The other 84 cents is spent on processing, packaging, marketing, transportation, distribution,

      and retail costs of the food supply.

  • One acre of wheat will yield about 40 bushels per acre and will produce over 2,000 loaves of bread, or over 50 loaves of bread per bushel of wheat.

If a farmer is paid $6.50 per bushel for wheat from the farm, the wheat cost in a loaf of bread is only about 18 cents per loaf. (Est. Retail Value is about $2.99/loaf).


  • Following is the farmer’s share of some other common food products and the (Est. Retail Value as of February, 2013, based on USDA average prices) :

Bacon - $.89/lb. ($4.83/lb.); Sirloin Steak - $2.00/lb. ($7.99/lb.); Boneless Ham - $.89/lb. ($3.99/lb.); Milk - $1.67/gal ($4.12/gal.); Eggs - $.98/doz. ($2.89/doz.); Breakfast Cereal - $.13/box ($4.89/box); Potatoes - $.31/five lbs. ($3.29/five lbs.); Tomatoes - $.33/lb. ($3.88/lb.).

  • The soil erosion rate in the U.S. has declined by over 40 percent in the past twenty years.   Today, conservation tillage methods are utilized on over 72 million acres of crop acres in the   U.S., contour farming practices are used on approximately 26 million acres, and over 1.3 million acres of waterways are maintained by U.S. farmers.
  • Fresh beef sold at the retail meat counter in the U.S. has 25-30 percent less fat content than 20 years ago.

Today, the average pork tenderloin only has about one gram more fat content than a skinless chicken breast, which is considered among the leanest of meat products.

  • Today’s modern combines, harvest over 900 bushels of corn per hour, or 100 bushels every seven minutes.

      By comparison, in the 1930’s, before modernized harvesting equipment, a farmer would harvest

      approximately 100 bushels of corn in a nine hour day.

  • The Minnesota Agriculture Industry generated approximately $15.1 billion in farm income and over $5 billion in farm exports in 2010.

Nearly one in five jobs in Minnesota is linked to the agriculture industry. Minnesota ranks in the top ten States in the U.S. in corn, soybean, pork, dairy, and turkey production.


Please celebrate and enjoy National Ag Week, and thank a farmer for the abundant supply of safe and affordable food that they provide for all of us !


(NOTE --- Facts listed in this article are from USDA, National Farmers Union, American Farm

                  Bureau, and other sources.)



Note --- For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and

              Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone --- (507) 381-7960) ; 

              E-mail ---  Web Site ---