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The benefits of agriculture

Created: 4/22/10 (Thu) | Topic: Education

Farmers have always been good stewards of the land. That's where they make their living. That's where they live.

They have always been at the forefront of trying to do things to improve their production practices, to minimize their effects on the environment.

American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young says there are plenty of statistics to prove that point.

"I think agriculture is absolutely one of the great miracle stories that this country has had over the last 50, 60, 75, 100 years. We're producing 162 percent more stuff in agriculture than we did just back into the '70s or so, and with two percent less inputs.

"Other than computers, I don't know of any other sector that has demonstrated that kind of productivity explosion.

"Go all the way back to 1944: We had about 26 million dairy cows in the United States. Today, we're donw to about 9.2 million cows. In 1944, we produced 117 billion pounds of milk.  Today, we're producing almost 190 billion pounds of milk. So even though we've cut the herd by almost two-thirds, we're producing another 60-70 percent of milk than we were back in 1944."

And with world population expected to top 9 billion people by 2050, continued productivity improvements will be vital, he said.

"We're learning all the the time and agriculture has demonstrated very clearly throughout several decades that it's very ready to adapt, to change, to do things differently. But at the same time, we have to recognize that the first sustainability is economic sustainability. We have to make sure that these producers are making money, that they can stay in business," Young said.

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