Thought of the Week

“It’s fine to celebrate success but
its more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

-Bill Gates

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The world these days fails to recognize
the import of connection.
Our most basic right, that of knowledge,
is frayed by our ignorances of supply, demand,
and the process that lies between the two.

What we need, we take for granted,
what we want, we desire with all our hearts,
our perverted, deluded hearts.

The most primal link, to sustenance, withers.
And what we need and what we want, confused.
Take stock of what’s real, friends,
for we shall surely need more of that,
and less of that other.

By Stan Vilensky, Street Poet on Frenchmen Street, New Orleans

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Thought of the Week

Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.


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Biotech Benefits Consumers

Biotechnology applied to medicine, agriculture and environmental management solves problems or enhances products through cellular and molecular processes.

Improved crop disease protection through biotechnology provides a more reliable harvest. This means food is consistently available and more affordable.

Oils from some biotech crops contain fewer saturated fats and trans fats after processing; others are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with improved heart health.  Lower-fat beef and pork, with a higher meat-to-fat ratio are also possible thanks to biotechnology.

Non-bruising and non-browning apples and potatoes reduce food waste.

Biotech salmon contribute to more sustainable aquaculture systems by rapidly reaching market weight while consuming 25% less food compared to conventionally raised salmon.


Biotechnology saved the Hawaiian papaya industry after the papaya ringspot virus nearly wiped the crop out.

Scientists are exploring how biotechnology may someday expand choices for people with common food-related allergies, improve the flavor of food and enhance freshness.


Top Five countries in terms of biotech-grown crops based on acreage-
United States

Biotech crops are grown by 18 million farmers, 90% of whom live in developing countries.

Biotech crops reduce herbicide and insecticide use by 19%!

U.S. farmers grew biotech varieties of corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarbeets, papaya, alfalfa, canola, squash and potatoes on 180,000,000 acres in 2016.


-American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.  Sources:  International Food Information Council; Food

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Thought of the Week

When you work hard and tell the truth,
things work out best.

-Emory Shahan

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Americans and Their Food

U.S. consumers spend less than 10% of their disposable income on food each year, while those in other countries spend much more.

U.S.A.                      7%

Netherlands          12%

Mexico                    25%

India                        30%

Pakistan                  49%

Nigeria                     57%

Average per capital annual food expenditures equal $4,576 in the U.S.  Of the 10% of disposable income Americans spend on food each year, 50% is for food eaten at home and 50% is for food eaten away from home.

The USDA tracks how much of  the different types of food we eat on average annually (annual per capita consumption).


94.9 lbs – Flour (white & whole wheat)
87.7 lbs – Chicken
51.5 lbs – Beef
46.7 lbs – Potatoes
31.4 lbs – Tomatoes
21.9 lbs – Cheese
11.9 lbs – Apples
11.3 lbs – Bananas

About 8% of US farms market foods locally through direct-to-consumer or intermediated sales (farmers’ markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture, food hubs, etc.).  Buying local provides the opportunity to talk with those who grow or produce fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, meats, cheeses, baked goods and other value-added foods.

Transporting, processing and packaging farm-grown foods so they’re ready to be enjoyed on our tables costs significantly more today compared with the recent past.  The farmer’s share of the retail food dollar is as low as 2% to 4$ for bread and cereal, and as much as 35% for some fresh market products.

Farmers and ranchers receive only 16 cents (on average) out of every retail dollar spend on food that is eaten at home andaway from home.  In 1980, farmers received 31 cents out of every retail dollar spent on food in the United States.  The farm share in a dollar food purchase is higher for food consumed at home, compared to food consumed away from home – 24 cents vs only 5 cants.

Off farm costs – marketing expenses associated with processing, wholesaling, distributing and retailing of food products – account for 84 cents of every retail dollar spend on food.


-2017 American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, USDA-ERS (Food Dollar Series)


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Thought of the Week

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

-Helen Keller

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Farmers Protect Natural Resources

No-till or conservation tillage – a way of farming that reduces erosion (aka soil loss) while using less energy – is used on more than twice as many cropland acres compared to conventional tillage.  Advanced conservation practices are used on more than 50% of cropland acres.

Farmers, ranchers and other landowners have enrolled a total of 24,000,000 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to protect the environment and provide habitat for wildlife.  Since its inception in 1986, the program has reduced soil erosion by 8,000,000,000 Tons, annually cut sediment leaving fields by more than 300,000,000 Tons, and has restored more than 2,000,000 acres of wetlands.

Two important CRP initiatives included in the farm bill are introduction of native grasses and installation of conservation buffers.  Buffers improve soil, air and water quality, enhance wildlife habitat, and create scenic landscapes.


No-Till (aka Direct Seed)                      96,476,496
Conservation Tillage                             76,639,804
Conservation Easement                       13,186,093
Cover Crops Planted                             10,280,793
USDA Conservation Programs            27,485,000
Conservation Tillage                           105,707,971
Other                                                        59,914,257

Each year, hundreds of thousands of trees are planted on farmland.  More than half of America’s farmers intentionally provide habitat for wildlife.  Deer, moose, fowl and other species have shown significant population increases for decades.

-2017 American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
Sources:  Census of Agriculture (2012) USDA-NRCS

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Thought of the Week

You know you’re on the farm

when your alarm clock has feathers.

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Farmers Take Conservation Seriously

We often hear of environmental groups and even city folks who challenge those who live in rural areas, on ranches or on farms to take better care of their land and natural resources.  What they don’t understand is that the careful stewardship by America’s food producers has spurred at 44% decline in erosion of cropland by wind and water since 1982!

Through the farm bill, funding is provided to farmers and ranchers for conservation programs that prevent soil erosion, preserve and restore wetlands, clean the air and water, and enhance wildlife habitat.

Crop rotation, the practice of growing different crops in succession on the same land, is another way farmers take care of their land.  For contour farming, farmers plant crops across the slope of the land to conserve water and protect soil.

Sand, silt and clay are basic mineral particles that make up soil, which also contains microorganisms and worms.  Farmers often test soil before planting to determine the composition, pH and balance of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  The results of these tests are used to determine the proper type and amount of fertilizer to apply.

– American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, 2017
Sources:  AFBF, USDA National Resources Inventory (2012)

Posted in Dirt, Education, Erosion, Farm Bill, Farmland Preservation, Feeding the World, For Kids, No-till agriculture, Soil, Water | Leave a comment