This week is designated National Ag Week, as well as in Minnesota.
No question about it, agribusiness is vital to the health of Minnesota. According to the USDA it generates around 15 billion dollars in farm income. Nearly one-fifth of all jobs in Minnesota are tied to the agriculture industry. The state ranks in the top ten in production of soybeans, corn, pork, dairy, and turkey.
"Agriculture is a big key to not only our state, but our nation's trade balance," says Kent Thiesse, VP of Minnstar Bank and Farm Management Analyst.
Farming has progressed quite a bit since the Dust Bowl days. Advancements in technology have made it possible to produce higher yields with their crops. "In 1960, one farmer produced enough food for themselves and about 40 other people. Today, that number is closer to 160 people so, you know, you look at a relatively short time, 50 years, how much more efficient we've gotten," says Thiesse.
Technology, like more efficient combines, genetically altered seeds, and safer and more effective pesticides, have played major roles in increasing output.
While technology makes it easier, farmers still have some concerns.
Our drought will remain a concern until we start getting more rainfall. The recent sequester will cut funding to research. And also the farm bill remains an issue, specifically with direct payments per acre and crop insurance. Thiesse says, "Crop insurance has become kind of their main risk management tool that they have and if somehow that got messed up, its set up already for this year, but down the road that could cause some concern for crop farmers."
But farmers will endure as they always have and we celebrate them this week for all they do for us.