Since November has arrived, most of us are starting to think about the next holiday coming up that will involve a lot of eating. In fact, after we finish watching Snoopy float across New York City in the Macy’s parade, many of us will sit down to gobble up – pun intended – 45 million turkeys in this country on Thanksgiving Day. That equals to about one turkey for every seven people who call this great land their home and that thought is really not that appetizing if you think about having to eat a whole turkey, but it is a pretty important fact if you are involved in agriculture and especially in the production of turkeys. Since Thanksgiving is a special time for all of us to think about food and others, it is also the time of the year we celebrate National Farm-City Week during the week of November 19-25 this year. It always begins on the Friday before Thanksgiving and ends on Thanksgiving. It is a real good time for the farm and city cousins to come together to celebrate the growing story of agriculture, which also is pretty close to another pun.
No matter if you are a city or a farm cousin, we all have professions that depend on agricultural products to get our jobs done. Twenty-one million American workers produce, process, sell and trade the nation’s food and fiber, but less than 4 million of the 21 million live on farms, slightly less than two percent of the U.S. population.
Consumers spend billions for food originating on Tennessee and U.S. farms. Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer’s share is only 19 cents. The rest goes to wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. So, there are a lot of families depending on the farmer for more things than just food.
Every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, around $6 million in U.S. agricultural products, grain, oilseed, cotton, meats, vegetables, snack foods and others, will be consigned for export to foreign markets. Tennessee farmers not only produce for their local markets, but also for the world. About 24 percent of all U.S. agricultural products are exported yearly including 114 million tons of grains and feed, 4 million tons of poultry meats and 2 million tons of fresh vegetables.
No matter what profession you are in, you and other American workers depend on agricultural products to get the job done.
If you work in one of the following areas, you might recognize these products as those you use everyday at work. Many of these products come from plant and animal by-products produced by the farmers of America. If you are in manufacturing, you may use adhesives, lubricants, solvents, detergents and polymers. Health care uses pharmaceuticals, surgical sutures, ointments, latex gloves, x-ray film, skin grafts, gelatin for capsules and heart valves. Printing consumes paper, ink, film, coatings and lubricants. Education uses ag-produced crayons, textbooks, chalk, desks, pencils and paper. Even the entertainment industry uses agriculture by using products such as film, strings for musical instruments, stage sets and
We all depend on agriculture just as agriculture depends on manufacturing for tools and equipment, health care products for their families and livestock, printing for information and communications, and construction for homes and buildings.
Farmers use computers designed and built in cities to track marketing information, maintain balance spreadsheets and keep track of livestock production figures.
The farm and city depend on each other everyday. However, it is vital to remember this shared
importance is continued year round. We must all work together to reach the goals that are set for each industry sector. And those goals are to continue to provide only the best food, fiber and shelter for the earth’s population.
No matter which cousin you are come November 19, take time to celebrate National Farm-City Week. City cousins take a trip to the country and country cousins take a trip to town, but remember to eat your fair share of the turkey come Thanksgiving. However, I just don’t think a whole turkey is required.