The farming industry in the U.S. is in a huge state of transition. Such factors as loss of arable land as a result of development, and extreme weather events brought about by climate change, are threats to the food supply, while there has also been a slow decline in the number of people working in the farming industry for decades. At the same time, tariff wars have created doubt over the financial viability of such major crops as soybeans, the No. 1 food export in America. We’re also seeing rapid innovation in American farming. Smart technology is having an impact on agricultural work and is also changing how Americans are interacting with their food on a day-to-day basis. Here are five facts that may surprise you about the farming industry in the U.S.
Number of farms falling
While there may be vast amounts of farmland in the U.S. ranchers and farmers account for only 1.3% of the employed population in the U.S., amounting to 2.6 million workers. There are around two million operating farms in the U.S., a steep fall from 1935 when there were close to seven million at the peak. In 1940, agricultural workers made up 70% of the workforce. This is an alarming drop-off.
Not all agricultural jobs take place in a field. New recruits could be posted in an office, in a lab, or even in a co-working space. CareerAddict claims that a number of the most financially rewarding posts in the field include the role of agricultural economist. They advise clients and forecast trends for an average of over $100,000 per year. Then there are agricultural lawyers, who deal with cases revolving around labour laws, environmental protection, and proper land use, who earn an average of more than $115,820 per year.
A contiguous study
A Bloomberg study revealed that while agricultural land in the U.S. comprises 391 million acres- one-fifth of the land in the 48 contiguous states- just 77.3 million acres are used in growing the food that goes into our mouths, while 800 million acres are used to feed livestock such as cows. That makes up 41% of the contiguous U.S., roughly the same size as India. The same research revealed that urban areas made up just 3.6% of the 48 contiguous states.
Agricultural science company Corteva claims that Internet of Things-powered technology is able to track a stalk of celery or piece of fruit on its journey to the fruit and vegetables aisle in the grocery store. The purpose of smart labels is to assuage any fears consumers may have with regards to the origins of their food. Smart labels also recognise consumers who mainly buy these foods from a local farmers’ market and who want to ensure that the food they buy at the store doesn’t carry a significantly high-carbon footprint.