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USA Agriculture & Food Structure of Agriculture Since 2004: less than 1% of the USA population were farmers; 1920: 30%; in 1787: 90% 17% of the total labor.

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Presentation on theme: "USA Agriculture & Food Structure of Agriculture Since 2004: less than 1% of the USA population were farmers; 1920: 30%; in 1787: 90% 17% of the total labor."— Presentation transcript:

1 USA Agriculture & Food Structure of Agriculture Since 2004: less than 1% of the USA population were farmers; 1920: 30%; in 1787: 90% 17% of the total labor force work in food-related industries 23 million food-related jobs with 90% of the jobs off farms 17% of the country's GNP One farmer/rancher provides for 114 people: 92 in the USA and 22 abroad. With off-farm agricultural-related jobs, each farmer feeds only 16! About 90% of farms (total 2 million) are family-owned.

2 USA Agriculture & Food Most U.S. farmers produce crops for feed and fuel (biofuels) rather than as food directly. Feed and Fuel Whereas 45% of the global crops are for feed and fuel, 73% of U.S. and 82% of Midwest crops are used for feed and fuel (purple color on the map). Food In contracts, whereas 55% of global crops are produced for direct food consumption, only 27% of U.S. and 19% of Midwest crops are used for food (green color on the map).

3 USA Agriculture & Food 2% of farms with $500,000 or more sales operate 13% of the land 6% of all landowners control over 50% of farmland [in Venezuela: fewer than 5% of all landowners control over 75% of farmland] 2% of farms with $500,000 or more sales generate 50% of gross farm sales 9% of farms produce 73% of farm sales

4 USA Agriculture & Food 10% of the largest & richest farms receive 75% of federal farm program payments Between 2007 and 2011, 2,300 farm operators, who grew no crops of any kind, received $3 million! Between 2008 and 2012, $10.6 million was paid to farmers who were dead for over a year! Overall, farm subsidies account for about $20 billion per year from taxpayers. In 2014, Congress abolished direct farm payments based on land ownership, but farmers now get more subsidies crop insurance and new payments based on past crops and productivity! Things really never do change as long entrenched special interests control Congress.

5 Federal government farm subsidies per capita by county 20% of the largest farms received 80% of federal farm program payments. Notable farm-subsidy recipients Republican from Iowa since 1981

6 USA Agriculture & Food Vertical Integration in Agriculture: production -> consumption An Example: ConAgra -- vertical integration and contract farming In the 2004 Presidential election, 82% of ConAgra’s political contributions ($197,252) went to the Republican Party [Source: The Hightower Lowdown, January 2005] top four firms processing of beef, pork, broilers, sheep, turkeys, and seafood. second largest food firm in the USA; fourth largest in the world with operations in 32 countries. D) Retail Brands: Country Pride (fryers), Banquet, Beatrice Food (TV dinners and pot pies) C) Transportation: owns 1,00 barges, 2,000 railroad cars, 100 grain elevators B) Feed and Farm Chemical Supplies: 1) largest fertilizer producer and agricultural chemicals 2) produces its own poultry and livestock feed A) Production: 1) owns and operates chicken hatcheries 2) contracts with “independent” farmers to raise chickens 3) processes chickens in its own slaughterhouses

7 USA Agriculture & Food 5 largest livestock commodity processors’ share of the US market 10 companies supply more than 50% of all food and drinks sold in the USA.

8 USA Agriculture & Food 4 largest plant commodity processors’ share of the US market

9 USA Agriculture & Food Advertising and Creating Foods 1) Pringles (first introduced in 1973) by Proctor & Gamble Problem: what is wrong with potato chips? 150 marketing research surveys: Consumers did not like broken, irregular, stale, and burnt potato chips Solution: use small and irregular potatoes – lower costs; lower value to farmers combine with 6 chemicals (color, shelf life, etc.) and sugar mush poured into potato chip-shaped molds package in tennis-ball like cans (20% of the total product’s cost) spent $5.4 million in advertisements; captured 75%+ of the market In 2009, Pringles argued before Britain’s Court of Appeal that the chips did not contain enough potatoes to pay the value-added tax!! In 2012, Pringles was sold for $2.5 billion to Kellogs, which is the fourth largest brand in the world. 2) Fresh Horizons advertised as 400% more fiber than standard breads third largest ingredient is pulverized wood pulp Canada banned it; FDA is testing if wood pulp is dangerous to health 3) Miracle Whip, advertised as the taste of mayo with half the fat: now contains less soya oil, which fattening and expensive, and more water, which is slimming and cheap!

10 USA Agriculture & Food Consequences: farmers received 12¢ in 2012 for each food dollar spent; 35¢ in 1984; 40¢ in 1949 Annual return on investments: for farmers 4-5 percent vs. for food-processors about 20 percent ItemRetail PriceFarmer's Share Box of cereal$ cents Loaf of bread$ cents Sirloin steak (1 lb.)$ cents Cheddar cheese (1 lb.)$5.91 $1.05 Potato chips (9 oz.)$ cents Head of lettuce$ cents Bacon (1 lb.)$ cents Source: Figures based on Washington-area food prices and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Small Farm Center. Small Farm Center Yet when asked to compare financial rewards received by different levels of USA food production system, 43 percent of the respondents thought food processors received the most, 32 percent thought farmers receive the most, and 24 percent thought supermarkets received the most financial reward. Source: American Farm Bureau FederationAmerican Farm Bureau Federation

11 USA Agriculture & Food best value worst value

12 USA Agriculture & Food poorer countries richer countries

13 USA Agriculture & Food Source: “The New Face of Hunger,” National Geographic, August 2014,

14 USA Agriculture & Food Source: “The New Face of Hunger,” National Geographic, August 2014,

15 USA Agriculture & Food Federal government subsidies to food corporations McDonald got $1.6 million to help advertise their fast food products overseas Sunkist got $78 million since 1986 to promote orange juice in Asia All U.S. agribusinesses and food corporations receive about $6.2 billion per year in federal subsidies (direct payments and indirect through federal taxes). Food and Fun and Health 1997 giveaway Teenie Beanie Babies increased sale for McDonalds’ Happy Meals from 10 million a week to 10 million a day! [What were the health and toy-cost consequences?] 96% of USA school children can identify Ronald McDonald; only Santa Claus scored higher! [But Joe Camel (cigarettes) was banded because of its association with bad health! Nearly as many six-year olds correctly associated "Joe Camel" with cigarettes as they could link Mickey Mouse to the Disney Channel.] average four oz. hamburger patty consists of beef or fat tissue from between 55 to 1,082 cattle. [Source: Colorado State University study, cited in The Economist, 9 March 2002]

16 USA Agriculture & Food Food Waste around the World 40% of all food produced in the USA was wasted at home, restaurants, and stores –- about 100 kg per person per year or a total of 1 billion tons of food a year (or $165 billion in 2011), equal to 33% of the entire world’s supply of meat! [In India, for example, 40% is wasted on or near farms.] In 1974, USA wasted only 28% of all food. Food Travels In 2000, U.S. food traveled 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farms to consumption (20% more than in 1980) Source: Food First, Backgrounder, 2004; Coop America Newsletter, 2006; The Economist 2011; The Wall Street Journal, October 2012.

17 USA Agriculture & Food Socially irrational but privately profitable international food trade USA exported $20 million of lettuce to Mexico and imported $20 million of lettuce from Mexico. New York exported $431,000 of California almonds to Italy and imported $397,000 of Italian almonds to the USA. California sold $18 million of asparagus abroad while importing $39 million of asparagus from other countries. Source: Food First, Backgrounder, 2004; Coop America Newsletter, 2006; The Economist 2011; The Wall Street Journal, October Socially irrational but privately profitable international food- water trade drought-stricken interior California shipped more than 50 billion gallons of water (enough for the annual needs of 500,000 families) to China in the form of alfalfa to feed cattle there. for every two container ships arriving with manufacturing goods from China, one returns empty. it costs twice as much ($45/ton) to truck alfalfa from a Southern California farm to a dairy in the Central Valley as it does to ship it from Long Beach, CA, to Beijing!

18 U S A A g r i c u l t u r e & F o o d Chicken parts sold around the world Source: National Geographic, October 2014, pp.56-57

19 USA Agriculture & Food overweight hungry The USA is the largest food producer, yet 35 million go hungry and nearly 66 percent are overweight! Wealthier neighborhoods have 2-3 times as many supermarkets as low- income areas. White areas have 4 times more food stores than Black neighborhoods. Source: Food First, Backgrounder, Vol. 10, No.1, Winter 2004.


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