Farmers Feed Us All
As our society becomes more urban, fewer Americans ever see the connection between the food they eat, the clothing they wear, and the farms where food and fiber products are grown. Most of us will never see the cow that produces the milk for our breakfast, the cotton field from which the cotton in our blue jeans comes from, or the fields and orchards where our fresh produce is grown. Yet every day, whether we realize it or not, we benefit from the bounty produced by the American farmer. Their rich harvest provides food for this nation and for other countries around the world.
Thanks to this abundance, Americans paid around 7 percent of their household income on food in 2012 compared to 24 percent spent in 1930. Singapore is the next lowest country with their consumers paying 7.3 percent a year on food. Pakistan families spend a whopping 47.7 percent followed by the Russians with 31.6 percent of their earnings spent on food each year. Canadians will spend 9.6 percent and Japanese spend 13.8 percent of their pay toward groceries.
In a lifetime the average American will consume 1,239 chickens, enough vegetables to fill 16 pickup trucks, twenty 240 pound hogs, enough milk to fill 34 bathtubs, seven steers weighing over 7,000 pounds and two football fields of wheat. Today’s farmer fed 155 people, compared to feeding just over 18 people in 1940 and 26 in 1960.
North Carolina’s agricultural industry, including food, fiber and forestry, contributes $84 billion annually to the State’s economy, and accounts for 17% of the State’s income, and employs over 17% of the work force. To put agriculture’s economic importance in perspective, the N.C. Department of Commerce reports the state’s second-leading industry — the military — contributes about $23 billion to the economy. As one of the most diversified agriculture states in the nation, North Carolina’s 52,200 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state’s 31 million acres. We export close to $4 BILLON worth of agricultural products. NC Agriculture not only provides us with a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber but we also feed, cloth and house the world.
Each year farming in Lee County generates roughly $40 million with agriculture and agribusiness industries providing a total income well over of $282 million. These successes are due in part to people working together from the farm to the city. Many jobs are created in harvesting, storage, processing, transporting, and selling the food and fiber products of the state.
In recognition of the importance of agriculture, the Lee County Board of Commissioners, Broadway Town Council and Sanford City Council will proclaim November 17-24, 2016 as Farm‑City Week during their monthly meetings in November. The Lee County observance is co-sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County and Kiwanis Club of Sanford. Farm‑City Week is a time to recognize that the growth and development of our County is based on the mutual need and support of our rural and urban residents.
Our Farm City Week annual banquet will be held on Monday, November 21 at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center. Again this year’s meal will feature the traditional country ham, scrambled eggs, grits with red eye gravy, and biscuits with molasses prepared by the Lemon Springs Ruritan club. The banquet begins with a social at 5:30 pm provided by our ECA members. During the evening, the Farm Enterprise and Friend of Agriculture awards will be presented, and the local Walters Family Music group will provide entertainment. The winners of the “Agriculture Exposed” Art and Photography contest will be recognized and their work will be on display. Tickets are available for $8 at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center. Tuesday morning following the banquet we will host our annual elected official’s farm tour.
Our farms provide an abundant supply of safe, wholesome and affordable high quality food, which is unmatched around the world. Come celebrate with us the achievements of those who produce and supply our community and nation with an abundance of agricultural products during Farm City Week.
Zack Taylor is the Agriculture Agent – Field Crops and Livestock, for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.