It's more than cows
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[MARCH 23, 2005]
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. --
From oxen and horses drawing equipment
down a field to tractors with onboard computers and the power of up
to 300 horses, American farmers have increased their production
capacity to keep up with the ever-expanding population. In fact, one
farmer now supplies food for about 129 people in the United States
and abroad, compared with just 25.8 people in 1960.
All Americans are asked to enjoy and
admire the wonders of American agriculture as National Agriculture
Day is celebrated on March 20.
The efficiency of American farmers
pays off in the price American consumers pay for food as well.
Research indicates that most Americans have to work about 40 days to
generate enough income to pay for their food supply for a year. It
takes nearly 129 days to generate enough money to pay federal, state
and local taxes for the year. The ability to keep food costs down is
greatly due to improved crop and livestock genetics through
biotechnology and conventional breeding.
Biotechnology is a key factor in the
efficiency of American farmers and their ability to provide more,
higher-quality food and livestock. Biotechnology provides benefits
similar to traditional plant and livestock breeding but does so in a
more controlled environment and with faster results. Many consumers
today enjoy tastier fruits and vegetables that keep fresh longer
because of biotechnology and plant breeding.
Advancements made in plant
biotechnology provide consumers with better-quality products in many
areas. And those benefits are just beginning. There are many
products in the biotechnology research pipeline that will provide
better livestock feed, resulting in leaner meat that will help lower
cholesterol for consumers.
Many of these same products will
lessen the environmental impact of livestock production by reducing
waste and the chemicals found in animal waste. This is done by
producing feed products that are used more efficiently by the
Pharmaceutical companies are
actively working with farmers to develop crops that can go directly
from the field to pharmaceutical production -- eliminating some of
the processing steps that occur in today's operations. This research
will significantly reduce the costs required to produce many
With the increase in biotechnology
and crops designated for specific uses, farmers must trace their
crops and document production practices. New technology in equipment
is helping farmers do just that, while keeping them efficient enough
to focus on improved production techniques.
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"Farmers' needs for equipment are
changing," says Doug DeVries at John Deere in Moline, Ill., senior
vice president for agricultural marketing for North America,
Australia and Asia. "We've almost revamped our entire product line
to provide more efficient production solutions for farmers."
John Deere, for example, provides
farmers with technology services that include wireless information
transfer and satellite guidance systems for operating equipment.
Farmers can have information about their equipment and production
operations transferred directly from the equipment in the field to a
website for easy access later. This improves farmers' ability to
manage their crops, track production operations and trace
specific-use crops from planting to distribution.
information on advances in agriculture can be found in a variety of
locations on the Internet. Some key sites:
These are just a few of the sites
available and contain links to other sites with specific information
on the various aspects of agriculture, biotechnology and food
Today's farmers understand the
importance of improving the quality and quantity of food available
to the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is estimated
that there will be 7.5 billion people in the world by the year 2020
(currently at 6.2 billion). It's agriculture's job to find a way to
feed those people. Advancements in crop technology, equipment
technology and information management will make that possible.
American farmers and others involved in the agriculture industry
have met and will continue to meet this challenge again and again.
Agriculture Council of America]