The “On the Eighth Day God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl got me thinking. Thanks for everyone who has expressed appreciation for the men and women who feed this nation and the world!
If your only connection to food means buying straight from the grocery store shelves and eating it, it’s easy to lose touch with where those packages of hamburger, cartons of eggs, gallons of milk and loaves of bread actually started and how that raw material was planted, raised, fed, watered, harvested and marketed before it got anywhere near your table.
It’s disappointing to realize that many people truly do NOT know where their food comes from. When my mom was teaching kindergarten (not that many years ago), she taught a unit on farming each year and showed the kids a picture of a cow being milked by a milking machine. She asked the class to tell her what was going on in the picture. Without fail, each year several children said “They’re putting milk in the cow.” Granted, this was at a rather “inner city” school . . . but still . . it was in Iowa and the town wasn’t THAT big that kids would be isolated from agriculture and food sources. Yet, they were.
For a nation that was founded on agriculture, we’re coming dangerously close to losing touch with our agrarian roots. My friends all know the Farmer and they know why he rarely comes to dog shows with me. Yet acquaintances ask where he is and my answer is always the same, “He’s busy.” “Can’t he take a day off?” they ask. Sure. Maybe. If he can arrange with his brother to feed 400 head of beef cattle twice a day, monitor the cow/calf herds on two separate farms and tend to whatever degree of calving, crop planting, spraying, harvesting, hay making, manure hauling and field work is required by the season. Not to mention maintaining the buildings, machinery and fences, keeping the well pumping, forming a marketing plan, dealing with the banker, vet, seed, chemical and implement salesmen, keeping up with technology and staying ahead of all the government regulations.
You don't have to be crazy to farm but it helps. Wait, maybe it's you don't have to be crazy to marry a farmer but it helps . . .
I did a little research. The following info is from the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Farm Bureau, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Corn Growers Association.
When Abraham Lincoln created the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862, about 90 out of every 100 Americans were farmers. Today, that number has shrunk to just 2 out of every 100 Americans.
The average American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. In 1960 that number was 25.6.
Only 20 percent of Iowa’s 90,000 farmers raise livestock today. (Yay, us!)
Iowa ranks first in the nation in corn and soybean production.
Hamburger from a single steer will make about 720 quarter-pound hamburgers.
The average size of an Iowa farm is around 333 acres (as of 2011).
One acre is about the size of a football field without its end zones.
Farmland values range from the low $1,000s per acre up to $10,000 per acre, depending on soil quality and arability (i.e, "farmability")
A bushel of corn can sweeten 400 cans of soda, make 38 boxes of corn flakes or produce more than 2.5 gallons of ethanol.
Iowa has at least 11,000 different soils that make up some of the richest, most productive land in the world. ( I think at least 10,000 of these have made their way into my house on paws and boots.)
Iowa’s agricultural products from all sources were worth $20.5 billion in 2007.
90 percent of all Iowa crop land is farmed using some form of conservation practice.
Conservation methods have reduced wind and water erosion on American crop land by more than a third even in the last 20 years even as yields have more than quadrupled.
Each year, Iowa farmers produce approximately 8.2 million turkeys; 148,000 pounds of cheese; 3.8 million head of cattle; 1,230 million pounds of wool; 2.1 billion bushels of corn, 13.8 billion eggs, 4.12 billion pounds of milk; 17.3 million hogs; 235,000 sheet and 525 million bushels of soybeans.
No wonder you rarely see the Farmer at dog shows with me. He’s making sure you have enough to eat.