Agri-Stats: 2016

U.S. Agricultural Stats (2016) : 

  • Less than 2% of the U.S. population is involved with farming 
  • 1940, the average farmer produced food and fiber for 19 people, while in 2016, the average farmer produces enough food and fiber for 160 people.
  • In reality, today, over 96% of U.S. farms are family operations.
  • Today, there are about 912 million crop acres in the U.S.
  • In the US, there are about 2.1 million farms
  • When permanent grasslands and timber are added, there are about 2 billion acres in agriculture in the U.S. in 2016
  • Today, only 37% of Americans believe that most farms are family-run (That’s one of the findings from the International Food Informaiton Council’s annual survey of consumers).
  • In the U.S. farmers and ranchers receive less than $0.16 for every retail food dollar consumers pay.

Excerpts from Monterey County Farm Bureau, Farm Focus

Reposted from Facebook, June 13, 2016

Agri-Musing: George Washington on Agriculture

1786: George Washington wrote:
“Nothing in my opinion would contribute more to the welfare of these States, than the proper management of our Lands; and nothing, in this State [Virginia] particularly, seems to be less understood. The present mode of cropping practiced among us, is destructive to landed property; and must, if persisted in much longer, ultimately ruin the holders of it.
1791:  George Washington wrote to Arthur Young, the author of the  article called “On the Conduct of Experiments in Agriculture“ (1786):
The aim of the farmers in the country… is, not to make the most they can from the land, which is, or has been cheap, but the most of the labour, which is dear, the consequence of which has been, much ground, has been scratched over and none cultivated or improved as it ought to have been: Whereas a farmer in England, where land is dear, and labour cheap, finds it his interest to improve and cultivate highly, that he may reap large crops from a small quantity of ground. That the last is the true, and the first an erroneous policy, I will readily grant; but it requires time to conquer bad habits, and hardly anything short of necessity is able to accomplish it. That necessity is approaching by pretty rapid strides.”

Agri-Musing: Abraham Lincoln and Agriculture

Abraham Lincoln quote:

“Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure. And not grass alone; but soils, seeds, and seasons – hedges, ditches, and fences, draining, droughts, and irrigation – plowing, hoeing, and harrowing – reaping, mowing, and threshing – saving crops, pests of crops, diseases of crops, and what will prevent or cure them – implements, utensils, and machines, their relative merits and how to improve them – hogs, horses, and cattle – sheep, goats, and poultry – trees, shrubs, fruits, plants, and flowers – the thousand things of which these are specimens – each a world of study within itself.”

He was an advocate for agriculture and signed multiple laws that shaped U.S. Agricultural Policy: 

  • Established the USDA on May 15, 1862.
  • Signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. This transferred nearly 232 million acres of land from the public to private ownership and created over 1 million farms. 
  • He signed The Morrill Land Grant College Act on July 2, 1862. This legislation allowed for a donation of public lands to states for colleges of Agriculture and “mechanical arts”.

Factoids: Colloquialisms with an Ag twist

Where did these phrases originate? 

  • A SHOT OF WHISKEY In the old west a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents, so did a glass of whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash he would often give the bartender a cartridge in exchange for a drink. This became known as a “shot” of whiskey.
  • BUYING THE FARM  This is synonymous with dying. During WWI, soldiers were given life insurance policies worth $5,000. This was about the price of an average farm so if you died you “bought the farm” for your survivors.
  • PASSING THE BUCK/THE BUCK STOPS HERE  Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck knife company. When playing poker it as common to place one of these Buck knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was. When it was time for a new dealer the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer. If this person didn’t want to deal he would “pass the buck” to the next player. If that player accepted then “the buck stopped there”.’
  • RIFF RAFF The Mississippi River was the main way of traveling from north to south. Riverboats carried passengers and freight but they were expensive so most people used rafts. Everything had the right of way over rafts which were considered cheap. The steering oar on the rafts was called a “riff” and this transposed into riff-raff, meaning low class.
  • COBWEB The Old English word for “spider” was “cob”
  • OVER A BARREL  In the days before CPR a downing victim would be placed face down over a barrel and the barrel would be rolled back and forth in a effort to empty the lungs of water. It was rarely effective. If you are over a barrel you are in deep trouble.
  • BARGE IN  Heavy freight was moved along the Mississippi in large barges pushed by steamboats. These were hard to control and would sometimes swing into piers or other boats. People would say they “barged in”.
  • HOGWASH  Steamboats carried both people and animals. Since pigs smelled so bad they would be washed before being put on board. The mud and other filth that was washed off was considered useless “hog wash”.
  • BARRELS OF OIL  When the first oil wells were drilled they had made no provision for storing the liquid so they used water barrels. That is why, to this day, we speak of barrels of oil rather than gallons.

Source: My Friend, Will, The Bugkiller