No one knows better about food than the farmers and ranchers who produce it. That’s why the Montana Farm Bureau is celebrating Agriculture Week March 20-March 26. Its members have dedicated their lives to producing food and fiber.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much time and money go into growing our food, whether you’re raising crops or livestock,” says MFBF President Hans McPherson, a diversified farmer from Stevensville. “There is misinformation swirling around about agriculture, some is simply a lack of knowledge since so many people are generations removed from farming and ranching. The other is deliberate misinformation by people who are anti-modern agriculture. There are great facts, however, that tell the real story about farming and ranching.”
Myth: Farms are corporate.
NO! Farming in the United States is still very family oriented. Today, 97 percent of all U.S. farms are owned by families, family partnerships or family corporations. Farming is family. That is part of the reason why farmers take deep pride and care in the way they manage their farms. That’s also why their goal is to manage every aspect of their farm in a socially responsible manner – so they can be proud of the legacy they leave.
Myth: Farmers cause pollution to soil and water.
NO! • Farmers drink the same water and breathe the same air as their neighbors. That is why they know first-hand the importance of protecting and sustaining the environment for their families, their communities and for future generations. There are strict environmental standards in place and farmers respect, support and abide by those standards.
Myth: America’s farmers can’t grow enough food.
NO! Farms today produce more food with fewer resources. While farm and ranch productivity has increased dramatically since 1950, the use of resources (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.) required for production has declined markedly. Today’s farms can be called a “miracle of productivity.” Today’s farmers produce 262% more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950. One farmer today feeds 168 people.
Myth: Farmers get all the money from the food they grow.
NO! Farmers and ranchers receive only 16 cents of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers and ranchers received 31 cents.
Myth: Farming, ranching and grazing hurts wildlife.
NO! Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation’s wildlife
Myth: International trade is bad for U.S. agriculture
NO! The United States exports $43.5 billion in agriculture products and important $26.4 billion in farm products, equaling a positive net trade balance of $17.1 billion. One in three U.S. farm acres is planted for export, and 25 percent of gross farm income comes directly from exports. Agriculture generates 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.