Take a moment to think about how far technology has brought us in America.  We can golf, go to movies, take a vacation, drive our kids to soccer games or watch a football game with friends because we don’t have to work day and night to grow our own food thanks to agriculture! If you stop and truly think about this it will fill you with wonder—Agriculture is Amazing!  It is astounding to think that today each United States farmer produces food and fiber for 155 people in the United States and abroad.  Compare that to only 19 people in the year 1940—Agriculture is Amazing!

Advancements in agriculture have freed up people to do things other than grow their own food.   At an Oct. 2010 forum in Torrington, Dr. Gary Sides, with Pfizer Animal Health, said it best when he said:  "There is no culture without agriculture."

Without technology

Having food that is readily available is all most of us have ever experienced in our lifetime.  The picture would be much different though if technology was frozen in time.

“If technology was frozen in the year 1955, it would require an additional 450 million acres (the total land mass of Texas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma) to produce the beef we are producing today,” Sides commented.

“Globally, if we still achieved yields of 1960, an additional 15-20 million square miles of farmland would be needed to produce today’s food supply,” He continued.

In 1961, the United States population was close to 184 million people.  In 2006, that number was greater than 300 million people.  Sides related those numbers back to 1960.  “If agriculture technology today was the same as 1960, we would either have to 1) expand acres by 63% or 2) decrease food consumption by 63%,” He explained.

21st century food challenge

It is predicted that the world population will increase to nine billion by 2050.  That means we will need a 50% increase in the food supply by 2030 and 100% increase by 2050.

Sides commented there are simply two ways to meet global food demand.  “One is to take more land from nature (divert Yellowstone, the Black Hills or the Brazilian rain forests into agricultural lands).  The other choice is to produce more per acre or per animal on lands currently in agricultural production,” He said.  “Which alternative do you prefer?”

Sides points out that farming technology enables U.S. agriculture to produce 70% more corn from each pound of fertilizer, use 50-80% less water, decrease soil erosion by 43% in the last 20 years and produce 18% of the world’s total food supply on only 10% of the world’s land mass.

We have food

The old quote comes to mind:  “When people have food, they have a lot of problems.  When people don’t have food, they only have one problem.”  Fortunately, thanks to agriculture and the impacts of technological advances, we don’t have to worry about not having food to eat--Agriculture is Amazing!

The Wyoming Farm Bureau invites all Wyomingites to “Celebrate Amazing Agriculture” and learn more about its role in your daily lives and recognize the issues impacting agriculture.  We proudly celebrate Wyoming agriculture and its people every day of the year and specifically on Wyoming Agriculture Day, March 15, 2011.  Visit us at www.wyfb.org.

Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation News Release–March 11, 2011

CONTACT: Kerin Clark, WyFB Media Director, 307.532.2002 or kclark@wyfb.org