Agriculture Week celebrates food and fiber producers

Celebrate the bounty of America's farms and ranches during Agriculture Week March 19-25, 2023. Ag Day is slated for March 21 with the theme, "Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow."

Agriculture continues to be the number-one industry in Montana. According to Montana Agriculture Statistics Service, the Treasure State has 21,700 farms and ranches with 66 percent of the land used for rangeland or pasture and more than 28 percent in cropland. Winter wheat tops the list of crops grown in Montana, with 2,200,000 cattle and calves in the state.

"Many people don't realize that ninety-eight percent of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations." said Montana Farm Bureau President Cyndi Johnson. "Just 2 percent of America's farms and ranches are owned by non-family corporations or other entities."

Johnson explained farm and rancher families make up less than two percent of the U.S. population, growing a range of conventional, biotech and organic crops. Whether their businesses are big or small, today's farmers and ranchers strive for continuous improvement in food production.

"America's farmers and ranchers are proud to grow the safe and sustainable food, fiber and renewable fuel we all rely on. Farmers are using less land than ever before while producing more. Thirty years ago, it would have taken 100 million more acres to produce the same amount of food, feed and fuel that farmers are growing today," said Johnson, a Conrad wheat farmer.

Other agricultural facts:

• A typical Holstein dairy cow weighs 1,500 pounds and will produce an average of more than 25,000 pounds of milk each year. A cow converts roughage and grains not consumed by people into high-energy foods.

• Pizza comes from America's farms and ranches. Americans consume more than 3 billion pizzas annually. It takes 7 minutes, on average, to prepare a pizza from scratch.

• A bushel of wheat yields 42 one-and-a-half pound commercial loaves of white bread or about 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread.

• U.S. agricultural exports were valued at $177 billion in 2021, an 18 percent increase relative to 2020. Imports grew by almost 17 percent in 2021 to $171 billion.

• Environmental stewardship is a priority for farmers and ranchers. Agriculture's achievements over the last few decades show they can continue to be part of climate-smart solutions.

• Farmers receive only 14 cents (on average) out of every retail dollar spent on food that is eaten at home and away from home. Off-farm costs – marketing expenses associated with processing, wholesaling, distributing and retailing of food products – account for 86 cents of every retail dollar spent on food.

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