Celebrate food and farming during Ag Week | TSLN.com

Celebrate food and farming during Ag Week

The Montana Farm Bureau is celebrating Ag Week, March 23-29. Ag Week is about recognizing – and celebrating – the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. There are many things to cheer about modern agriculture, the first being the increase in productivity over the years. In 1960, one farmer fed 25 people. Today that farmer feeds 154 people. Not only that, but, thanks to the productivity of agriculture in our country, consumers only pay 10 percent of their disposable income on food compared to 20 percent in Poland, 36 percent in the Philippines and 47 percent in Cameroon.

Farmers are continually being more productive. Did you know the total U.S. crop yield (tons per acre) has increased more than 360 percent than the 1950s? That it takes 40 percent less feed for a dairy cow to produce 100 pounds of milk than it did 30 years ago? What's especially impressive is that despite an increase in food production, farmers are protecting natural resources more than ever before. Conservation tillage, a way of farming that reduces soil erosion on cropland while using less energy, has grown from 17 percent of acreage in 1982 to 63 percent today. Also included in soil management are practices such as crop rotation and contour farming. Many farmers use conservation practices that preserve and restore wetlands, clean the air and water and enhance wildlife.

"As the president of the Montana Farm Bureau and as a White Sulphur Springs rancher I take what I do on my farm or ranch seriously," said Bob Hanson. "I feel I am a real steward of the land. I take pride in the fact that agriculture provides a variety of goods for our community, state, nation and world. For instance, did you know that one bushel of wheat produces 42 pounds of flour which can be used to make 42 pounds of bread or pasta? Not only does agriculture provide food, but it also provides products for manufacturing, construction, printing, health care and entertainment. In addition, it provides alternative energy to help fuel America."

What might be the most impressive statistic is that all of the food being produced by farmers and ranchers in the U.S. is being done by two percent of the population on family farms and ranches. Ag Week is a great time to talk to a farmer or rancher and learn how they do what they do. There are a lot of agricultural people on social media, so get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube or the platform of your choice and enjoy a good conversation or read one of the many books and magazines that promote and celebrate agriculture. Happy Ag Week.

–Mont. Farm Bureau