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Why Agriculture Matters!

Agriculture is the art or science of cultivating the ground, including the harvesting of crops, and the raising and management of livestock. Or, as Bob Stallman—president of the American Farm Bureau Federation—puts it, America’s farm and ranch families harvesting crops and managing livestock is what puts food on the table for our citizens and for many other people around the world. . .America’s farmers and ranchers provide food security for this nation and much of the rest of the world.

However, some groups/people today feel that a career in Agriculture is “useless.” NOT true! Ag Students, take heart. Your degrees aren’t useless. Today’s agriculture industry is far more diverse and offers more opportunities than most people realize. And, people who choose agriculture careers know that they are doing work that matters. They are feeding and clothing the world, creating jobs and protecting our planet’s natural resources. What’s useless about that?

Agriculture careers are everywhere. There are 2.2 million farms in the U.S. and the agriculture and related industries that support those farms employ 21 million Americans, which are 15 percent of the U.S. workforce.

MYTH: Agriculture is not important to Utah’s economy.
FACT: Utah agriculture was a $1,329,421,000 industry in 2010.

MYTH: Family farms are a thing of the past.
FACT: Today, 98 percent of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations.

MYTH: Farmers destroy the environment.
FACT: Farmers and ranchers have installed 1.54 million miles of conservation buffers on their farms and enrolled 33.6 million acres of their own farm land in programs designed to protect the environment and provide habitat for wildlife.

MYTH: Food prices are high; the farmer must be getting rich!
FACT: Farmers and ranchers receive only 19 cents of every retail dollar spent on food. In 1980, farmers received 31 cents out of every retail dollar spent on food.

Remember that Agriculture is much more than just food. America’s farmers and ranchers also produce fiber, fuel and shelter. . . Agriculture reaches far beyond the farm and is important to everyone. Agriculture includes farmers as well as the urban and suburban residents who process, package and transport our food to America’s consumers.

How can you get involved in agriculture? Over 1 million students (540,379 FFA members) in 7,500 high schools across the nation are involved in their high school agricultural education programs and FFA chapters. They are engaged in developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through hands-on education and personal and leadership development.

George Washington made numerous contributions to agriculture throughout his life and stressed its importance by stating, I know of no pursuit in life in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture. FFA students honor his words every day as they plan, prepare, and become ready for college and career. What students are learning in high schools and colleges throughout the country benefits each one of us, now and in the future.

Join the Facebook and Twitter communities of FFA, both nationally and locally, and learn how these students are making a difference.

  • Nationally there are over 540,000 FFA members in 7,500 chapters. Like national FFA members on Facebook. Follow national FFA members on Twitter.
  • Utah has approximately 6,000 FFA members in 77 chapters. Like Utah FFA members on Facebook.

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