Farm Progress

Agriculture stats for National Ag Week

Kent Thiesse 1

March 15, 2016

3 Min Read

National Ag Week is March 13-19 all across the United States, and Tuesday, March 15, is 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. and Minnesota agriculture industry truly remarkable.

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

  • The 2012 Census of Agriculture listed a total of 2.1 million farms in the U.S. Overall, U.S. farm numbers have generally been declining since World War II; however, farm numbers have been more stable since 1992.

  • There was a total 915 million acres of land in farms in the U.S. in 2012. This total land in farms declined by less than one percent from the 2007 total, which was the third smallest decline since 1950. The average U.S. farm size in 2012 was 434 acres.

  • There was a total of $394.6 billion of agricultural sales in the U.S. in 2012, which was at a record level, and was about one-third higher than 2007. Crop sales in 2012 totaled $212.4 billion, while total livestock sales in 2012 were $182.2 billion. 2012 was only second time in the history of ag census data (since 1840) that total U.S. crop sales have exceeded total livestock sales. The other time was in 1974.

  • The average agricultural sales per farm in the U.S. in 2012 was $187,093. There were 57,292 farms with total sales above $1 million per year in 2012, which was an increase of 42.5 percent from 2007; however, 1.6 million farms (75%) had total sales of less than $50,000 annually.

  • In 2015, over 5 billion bushel of corn were used for U.S. ethanol production. There were 198 operating ethanol plants in the U.S. in 2015, producing just over 15 billion gallons of ethanol.

  • Advanced biotechnology corn seed was used on 93 percent of the U.S. corn acres in 2014. The use of insecticides in corn production in the U.S. has been reduced by 65 percent in recent years by the use of biotechnology corn varieties. The use of biotechnology in crop production has also reduced the overall need for pesticides, while helping to protect the environment.

  • The U.S. farmer of today produces enough food and fiber for approximately 160 people. This number compares to 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 other costs in the retail food supply.

  • One acre of wheat will yield about 50 bushels per acre and will produce over 2,500 loaves of bread, or over 50 loaves of bread per bushel of wheat. If a farmer is paid $5.00 per bushel for wheat from the farm, the wheat cost in a two pound loaf of bread is only about 11 cents per loaf. (Est. retail value of a loaf of bread is about $2.79/loaf).

  • Following is the farmer’s share of some other common food products and the (Est. Retail Value as of February, 2016, based on USDA average prices). Bacon - $.59/lb. ($4.33/lb.); Sirloin Steak - $2.09/lb. ($6.99/lb.); Boneless Ham - $.59/lb. ($4.39/lb.); Milk - $1.38/gal ($3.89/gal.); Eggs - $1.29/doz. ($2.99/doz.); Breakfast Cereal - $.05/box ($4.69/box); Potatoes - $.44/five lbs. ($3.89/five lbs.); Tomatoes - $1.08/lb. ($3.29/lb.).

As we celebrate National Ag Week, everyone should take time to appreciate the abundant supply of safe and affordable food and energy that is provided by farmers and the U.S. agriculture industry!

(Note: Facts listed in this article are from USDA, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, and other sources.)

About the Author(s)

Kent Thiesse 1

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 [email protected].

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