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AG 101:

AN INTRO TO
TODAY’S FARMING
National Press Foundation Journalist Training
St. Louis
9.15.19
TODAY ON OUR FARM…I WISH.
WHAT I
WISH WAS
AT OUR
FARM
TODAY
WHAT’S REALLY ON OUR FARM TODAY…
WHAT IS
REALLY
AT OUR
FARM
TODAY…
AG FACTS AND STATS
• All crayons have a bit of ag in them:
− 1 acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 Prang crayons
− Crayola crayons have beef tallow and beeswax in them.
• The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds
FARMERS AND RANCHERS ARE:
• The first locavores
• The key to sustainable food
systems
• Stewards of land, water and
animal welfare
• Innovative. Resilient.
Mission-driven.
• Dedicated to sustainability
beyond practices and
stewardship …the majority
want to leave a legacy by
passing on the operation to
the next generation
5 •
WHO FARMERS ARE
• Multi-generational families who raise crops, livestock, produce,
nuts and the basic ingredients of all we eat. 99% of farms are
family farms.

• How the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies farms:


− Small Family Farms - < $350,000 in gross farm income
− Midsize Family Farms – $350,000 - $999,000 in gross farm income
− Large-Scale Family Farms - $1,000,000 + in gross income
− Non-Family Farms - Farms where the principal operator and
individuals related to the operator do not own a majority of the business

• Ag is a classic example of the 80/20 rule – only more so: 10%


of farms account for 78% of production.
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SOURCE: USDA-ERS
THE CULTURE OF AGRICULTURE
• Generally conservative, but wildly progressive and innovative when
it comes to production technology and practices.
• Strong sense of community. Farmers are deeply involved in
churches, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, scholarship programs
and local efforts.
• Stewardship of land, water and animal welfare is taken seriously.
• Farmers are resourceful and independent.
• Modesty is a core virtue.
• Small world connections abound.
FINANCES: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
• More than money….but it takes a lot of money
• To start from scratch—with used equipment and frugal
management:
− A 1,500-acre (500 owned, 1,000 rented) corn and soybean farm
in Iowa: $5.1 Million
− A 250-cow dairy farm in Nebraska: $2.7 Million
− A 3,000-acre wheat farm in Kansas: $4.5 Million
• Risk-taking and resilience
• Financing for long-term purchases and annual operating loans

SOURCE: Shawn Williamson


HOW DO FARMERS MAKE MONEY?
2019 Forecasted Animal and 2019 Forecasted Crop Cash Receipts
($ billion, nominal)
Products Cash Receipts
($ billion, nominal)

• Most of what
farmers produce
is sold wholesale
as a basic
ingredient

Data as of September 13, 2019


Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Farm Income and Wealth Statistics.
U.S. FARM PRODUCTION EXPENSES
Major Input Expenditures by Total, and Percent of Total
United States: 2018

Million dollars

USDA NASS –
August 2019
TECHONOLOGY TRANSFORMATION
Auto-Steer Equipment…High-Tech Seeds…Satellite Imaging…
On-Farm Weather Stations…Robotic Milking….
Enough Innovation That We Could Talk About it All Day

Adding to the fun of farming:


This farmer friend starts his truck
with an RFID chip implanted in his
hand…it also opens his locked
desk…because he can.
LABOR
• One U.S. farm feeds 165 people
annually in the U.S. and abroad.
• Number of ag workers: 856,300.
• Technology, automation and size of
equipment have dramatically
reduced labor needs for crop and
livestock producers….the same is
not the case for other sectors…but
on-farm labor shortages exist all
across agriculture.
TRADE WARS
• Trade is critical to ag…and ag is critical
to trade
• Overall, 20% of ag production depends
on export markets
• The USMCA needs approval from
Congress:
− Mexico and Canada are solidifying their place
as two largest markets for U.S. ag
• China’s demand for soybeans has clearly
shifted to South America. African swine
fever in China, in part, has allowed China
to focus on supplies from South America.
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FARMER SENTIMENT TOWARDS TRUMP
• Despite frustrations, in
general, farm country
supports President Trump
and his administration
• Ongoing trade war with
China and low prices are
beginning to wear thin that
support
− The Farm Journal Pulse
survey shows that August was
the first time “strongly
approved” dropped below 50%
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NEED QUICK ACCESS TO FARMERS
OR AG EXPERTS?

REACH OUT ANYTIME:

Charlene Finck
Division President
Farm Journal
573-489-3060

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