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One U.S. farmer can feed 155 people around the world, compared to only 25.8 people in 1960, has sparked significant debate. A similar claim was made by Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor of Iowa, who stated at an event that “an Iowa farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people globally, whereas in 1970, a single Iowa farmer could only feed 73 individuals.” While these numbers are not without their imperfections (which we will address shortly), they highlight the remarkable ability of U.S. farmers to meet the escalating global demand for food by enhancing the efficiency and productivity of their operations.
Calculating the Number
This figure is derived from calculations conducted by the USDA in the 1970s and is now determined by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Bob Young, the chief economist at the farm bureau, explains that the number is obtained through a ratio where the cash receipts from agricultural products (amounting to $395 billion in 2012) are subtracted from the trade balance ($38 billion in 2012), and then divided by the cash receipts from agricultural products ($395 billion in 2012). To determine the number of farmers, economists divide the U.S. population (313 million people in 2012) by the number of farms in the country (2.17 million farms in 2012).
Flaws in the Number
The first flaw in this statistic is that it only considers the number of farms, disregarding the fact that multiple farmers may work on a single farm, particularly as farms have increased in size over time. Another oversight is that it assumes all farm produce is sold as food, which, in reality, is not always the case. Numerous crops grown by U.S. farmers serve other purposes, such as animal feed or the production of biofuels. In fact, approximately one-third of the U.S. corn crop is used as livestock feed, while another 40% is utilized for ethanol production.
Although the figure may be flawed, it effectively showcases the remarkable progress achieved by modern agriculture. Some economists, using updated data with the old equation, suggest that the number might now be closer to 160 people worldwide fed by a single U.S. farmer. While advancements like improved fertilizers, high-tech software, larger and more efficient machinery, and various other innovations have contributed to these remarkable gains, we are proud to have played a small part in boosting the productivity of U.S. farmers.
We diligently engineer our tires to keep pace with the advancements in agricultural equipment. As machines have grown larger, we custom design our tires to meet the specific requirements of these machines. Our tires are not only built to accommodate the expanding agricultural equipment; we also strive to minimize their impact by engineering them to reduce soil compaction and enhance overall farm productivity. Additionally, as farms have increased in size, we have focused on enhancing the durability and longevity of our tires, ensuring that farmers can spend more time in the field and less time in the repair shop. Witnessing the progress in agriculture and the remarkable accomplishments of farmers today has been truly inspiring, and we assure you that we are already working on the tires of tomorrow.