Editor, Times-Union:
How do American farmers feed the world? Let me count the ways.
The most obvious contribution is the food they produce on their farms. In the 2014-15 crop year, American farmers produced more than 555 million tons of grain and oil-seeds, which accounted for about 18 percent of global production in that year. In aggregate, about one-quarter of those crops and other U.S. agricultural commodities were exported around the world, to 190 different countries. In that year, U.S. agricultural exports were valued at $150 billion, of which about 60 percent went to developing countries. Based on USDA estimates of how much was spent on food per person in 2014, in 14 select low-income countries, that amount would fully feed at least 140 million people.
American farmers are also generous with their time in helping their brothers and sisters in developing countries improve their farming skills. Their assistance comes through U.S. government programs, such as the Farmer-to-Farmer program run by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Over its 30-year history, U.S. volunteers, most of them farmers, have undertaken nearly 17,000 assignments in 112 countries around the world.
These farmers also engage through non-governmental organizations, providing hands-on assistance through their local churches or fraternal organizations, or less directly by committing a portion of their crop receipts to such efforts, such as through the Foods Resource Bank or the Invest An Acre program.
Whatever its form, American farmers are truly committed to feeding the world.
Be sure to thank a farmer on this National Ag Day 2016. Farmers, helping feed, fuel, and cloth our growing world.
Kassi Tom Rowland
Leesburg, via email
Farm Journal Foundation – Indiana Farm Team Lead