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Celebrate National Ag Week

From the Farm

March 9, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

I tend to get a bit excited about things most people would find not so exciting.

I was thrilled when our tractor arrived from the dealer the other week.

This week I am enthusiastic because it is National Agricultural Week. Well, it officially ends tomorrow, but the Ag Parade is next week Tuesday.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

You can bet that Steve and I will, in some way, be participating in the parade.

Since it is National Ag Week, I thought I would share with you the importance of agriculture to America's society. I spent a bit of time perusing the Internet looking for unfamiliar snippets of information to share.

Did you know:

Farmers receive less than 20 cents of every consumer dollar spent on food? The remaining 80 cents is put into processing, packaging, marketing, transportation and distribution and retail costs.

That today, a farmer living in the United States produces enough food and fiber for approximately 155 people? In 1940, that number was 19. In 1960 and 1980, the numbers were 46 and 115, respectively.

One acre of wheat yields approximately 40 bushels and will produce more than 2,000 loaves of bread? (An acre is about the size of a football field and a bushel equals 9.03 gallons.) A farmer is paid about $6 for a bushel of wheat. In a loaf of bread the cost of the wheat is merely 17 cents per loaf. A superb loaf of bread costs more than $3 in the grocery store.

Today's combines chomp through fields of corn so fast it's almost amazing? In current times, combines harvest more than 900 bushels of corn. In the 1930s, a farmer harvested approximately 100 bushels of corn in one nine-hour day.

In Minnesota, there are 4,540 dairy farms? Dairy is the second largest agribusiness in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. That industry generates $1.66 billion to the economy and contributes an $11.5 billion total economic impact to our state, per year.

The average cow in Minnesota produces 7.5 gallons of milk per day? Did you know that it takes just 48 hours to get the milk from our bulk tank to your kitchen table? Now that's fast! Super cold milk is also the best-tasting milk.

There are three important steps in a dairy cow's life? First she's a baby calf, then she's an expectant mother (heifer) and when she has her own baby calf, she's officially a cow. And, once she's a cow, she'll always be a cow. They can only be referred to as heifers during their first pregnancy.

Pork is leaner today that it was 15 years ago? Today, on average, pork is approximately 16 percent lower in total fat. Pork tenderloin is as lean as skinless chicken breast. I love pork tenderloins and prepare them for supper at least once a week.

In much the same way as cows, pigs are classified according to age: gilts and sows? (It sounds so mean to use the word "sow.") Gilts haven't had piglets and sows have had little ones. A boar is an "intact" dad pig. Or is that "bore?" A barrow is a male pig that's not intact.

Mrs. Chicken can still lay an egg without having Mr. Rooster around? It's just that those eggs will not turn into baby chicks. Also, when an egg freezes, it gets extremely solid and will bounce off cement, trees and clay-block buildings. I learned that last fact all on my own during the doldrums of winter.

I hope you have learned something from my column today. It was compiled using the following Web sites: Corn and Soybean Digest Web, Midwest Dairy Association, Minnesota Pork Producers and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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