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Serving: United States
Corn+Soybean Digest

48-1071277Thiesse's Thoughts


National Ag Week is being celebrated March 20-26 all across the United States. 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:

  • U.S. consumers spend about 10 percent of their disposable income annually on food. By comparison, consumers in France spend 18 percent; consumers in Germany spend 21 percent; consumers in Japan spend 26 percent; and consumers in Mexico spend 33 percent.
  • It takes the average American 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 more than 100 days of earned income to pay all federal, state, and local taxes each year.
  • About 19 cents of every consumer dollar spent on food actually goes to the farmer. The other 81 cents is spent on processing, packaging, marketing, transportation, distribution, and retail costs.
  • The U.S. Agriculture Industry employs more than 24 million Americans to produce, process, sell, and trade the Nation’s food and fiber. This represents approximately 17 percent of the total U.S. work force.
  • About 17 percent of all U.S. agricultural products are exported each year. The top countries for U.S. exports are Canada, Japan, Mexico, the European Union, China, and South Korea.
  • The soil erosion rate on U.S. cropland has declined by over 40 percent since 1982. Today, conservation tillage methods are utilized on approximately 103 million acres of the total of 281 million crop acres in the U.S.
  • One dairy cow produces enough each day for 7 gallons of fluid milk, 2.9 pounds of butter, and 6.0 pounds of cheese. This daily production is accomplished by the dairy cow’s average daily consumption of 35 gallons of water, 35 pounds of hay and silage, and 20 pounds of grain and concentrates.
  • One acre of wheat will yield about 35 bushels per acre and will produce about 1,960 loaves of bread. This production is accomplished from the use of about 45 pounds of seed and 60 pounds of fertilizer, and receiving approximately15-20 inches of rainfall each year.
  • Minnesota ranks seventh in the U.S. in total receipts for agricultural products, at just under 7.5 billion per year. The top States are California, Texas, and Iowa. Minnesota ranks 2nd in turkey production; 3rd in soybean and hog production; 5th in dairy and corn production; 7th in wheat production; and 10th in cattle and potato production.
  • Some interesting facts regarding today’s farmer ……
    • The average U.S. farmer produces enough food and fiber for 144 people. This number was 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960, and 115 people in 1980.
    • 99 percent of all U.S. farms are family farm businesses owned by individuals, partnerships, and family corporations. These family-based farm enterprises account for about 94 percent of all the U.S. agricultural products that are sold each year.
    • The average age of the U.S. farmer is 55 years of age.
    • From 1997 to 2002, the number of farms operated by women increased by 12.6 percent.
    • There are 2.13 million farms in the U.S. today. This compares to a high of 6.8 million farms in 1930, 4.0 million farms in 1960, and 2.4 million farms in 1980.
    • Today, 58 percent of farms have computers and nearly half of all farms have Internet access. Almost 90 percent of farmers use cell phones.

    Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at

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