Hey, Grandma, were you a mite tuckered out after cooking your last holiday meal?
How many did you have at tables all ’round the house? 20? 35? More?
Well, whatever it was, just one farmer has you beat by a long shot. According to Missouri Farm Bureau, one American farm provides food and fiber for 166 people. Of course, all of them aren’t eating here; dinner tables around the world seat 60 of them.
Now, I realize those figures can’t be taken literally. One farmer doesn’t actually sit 106 people down at a long table in his hay barn. But when the number of people fed by American farmers is divided by the number producing their food, that’s what it comes out to.
And it makes a valid point: If you enjoy eating, thank a farmer. Heck, even if you don’t enjoy it, but just eat because you must, thank a farmer.
You might also thank him for the 90 cents of every dollar you don’t have to spend on food. Thank him for your bass boat, summer vacation or winter condo in Florida.
All of what we eat and many of the luxuries we enjoy in the United States are made possible by the productivity and efficiency of just 2% of our population on more than 2 million farms.
Missouri, alone, claims a big part of the production, ranking second in the nation in farms with 95,320, according to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. Additionally, Missouri is third in beef cattle, with 2.06 million head, fourth in rice, fifth in goats and cotton, sixth in hay production and turkeys, seventh in hogs and soybeans and 10th in corn, horses and chickens.
Farm Bureau also notes 96% of Missouri farms are family operations, providing 378,232 jobs and having an economic impact of $88.4 billion on the state’s economy.
And Grandma, we’ll understand if all of that leaves you more than a little frazzled after feeding all of your family, too. The Ag Census tells us you’re a big part of feeding those 166 people around the world, with the average age of Missouri farmers at 59.3.
So for my part, thanks Grandpa, Grandma and all your kin who make us the best-fed country in the world.
I hope you all reading this will do the same.
Farm Bureau’s Thank a Farmer Week is Feb. 2-8. We salute our veterans, so how about a sincere “Thank you for your service” for farmers, too.
Hamilton is a freelance writer and former editor of the Buffalo Reflex. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.