Friday, September 7, 2007

Agriculture Factoids

Modern Agriculture and the Environment

These questions reflect some statistics that surprised me, so I thought I’d share them. No scientific claims are made as to methodology or conclusions.

1. What proportion of Iowa farms are owner-operated?

[30.8 percent, Sophia Murphy, Managing the Invisible Hand: Markets, Farmers abnd International Trade, quoted in Hothaus, p. 224 ]

2. How far is food transported by national retail systems?

[800 to 1,500 miles, from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, quoted in From the Farm to the Table by Gary Holthaus, p. 251]

3. How much of owner-operated farm income comes from sources off the farm, i.e. a job in town?

86.7 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service 2006 Farm Income report, ]

4. How many breeds and varieties of chickens are there in the U.S.?

[around 200, SPPA documentation]

5. How many breeds are raised by large commercial producers?

[six, USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Office for Small-Scale Agriculture]

6. How much genetic diversity in agriculture disappeared from the world in the 20th century?

[about 75 percent, UN Food and Agriculture Organization report]

7. What proportion of antibiotics are given to food animals in the U.S. [70 percent, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists,]

8. How much does livestock raising contribute to global greenhouse gases?

[18 percent, more than transport, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture report, Livestock’s Long Shadow.]

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