Stop a moment and think about the foods you buy in the grocery store. Where do they come from? How do they get here?
You’re probably aware of the importance of agriculture in this country, but you may not have considered just how vital farmers are to our economy. Farms keep food on your table, thanks to vegetable and fruit growers, cattle ranchers, and other livestock providers. If any type of catastrophe, environmental or otherwise, were to hit this country and render farms inoperable, the impact it would have on food production and distribution would be devastating.
Facts about Farming
With the world population expected to grow from the current 7 billion to an estimated 9 billion people by 2050, farmers would need to double their production of food by then just to keep up with demand. In 2012 alone, farms and ranches in the United States spent $329 billion producing $388 billion in goods. The American farming industry is the nation’s largest job sector, supporting an estimated 23 million jobs.
National Impact on Farming Industry
The United States would struggle to function without a stable farm industry. This is important to remember in light of the recent rejection of a five-year farm bill, which has resulted in the temporary institution of 1949’s now outdated farm bill. In the absence of a new bill, the price of milk would skyrocket under the 1949 law, doubling the price of a gallon relative to market prices.
Failing to get support for a new and updated farm bill would also lead to less research support at universities and for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) renewable-energy initiatives, including bio-fuel production and development. Without farmers to raise and slaughter cattle and other livestock, the country’s source of protein and meats could steadily decline, leading to higher prices. The need to import basic food sources like fruits and vegetables would rise dramatically — along with price of such items — if our own farming industry could not address domestic demand.
It’s not just he United States that would suffer without American agricultural production, as the global economy relies on our exports as well. Let’s break down the agricultural commodities that benefit greatly from sales in overseas markets: according to the USDA, 64 percent of our almond crop is exported, as is 74 percent of cotton, 49 percent of rice, and 50 percent of wheat. The USDA Economic Research Service says the U.S. boasts the largest fed-cattle industry in the world, and is the planet’s largest producer of beef, particularly in regards to high-quality, grain-fed beef for domestic and export use. Consequently, countries that import American goods would suffer from a decline in the nation’s agricultural production as well.
As awareness of the importance of sustainable agriculture grows, it’s important to continue to support policies benefiting the industry. Agriculture has many benefits, not the least of which is to feed the population. It also produces material for clothing, feed for livestock, and bioenergy. Agriculture also helps reduce carbon emissions and aids in adaptations to climate change.
With far-reaching impacts felt locally, nationally, and globally, there is little doubt about the importance of the U.S. farming industry.
This article was provided by Charity Bailey, environmental studies major and friend of the earth. If you’re interested in buying farm-based equiptment and machinery, Charity recommends visiting www.dragonproductsltd.com.