I was at an Iowa Institute for Cooperatives meeting on Tuesday, and one of the presenters, Don Parrish who is Senior Director, Regulatory Relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation spoke on issues concerning the Clean Water Act. I would like to share a few facts mentioned in his presentation that speak to where agriculture has come from over the past 20-40 years.
In 1960, there were 59 million head of hogs raised, with a 6/1 feed conversion. Meaning it took 6 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of pork. In 2009, there were 59.8 million head of hogs raised with a feed conversion of 3/1.
In 1960, there were 96.2 million head of beef cattle raised with an 8/1 feed conversion. In 2009, there were 98.1 million head of beef cattle raised with a 4/1 feed conversion.
In 1960, 19 million head of Dairy cattle produced 123 billion pounds of milk. In 2009, 9.2 million head produced 189 billion pounds of milk, with a 70% reduction in carbon footprint.
In 2010, 87% more corn was produced than in 1980 on roughly the same amount of acres. That’s impressive in and of itself, but what is more important is that we used 4% fewer nutrients raising that crop.
Following are some graphs to show further efficiencies gained in agriculture over the last 20 years:
I wanted to share some of these statistics to show that agriculture is working to improve efficiencies which lead to improvements in sustainability and benefits the environment. But don’t think that the agricultural community feels it’s work is done. We are constantly looking for and experimenting with new ways to improve production and lessen the impact on the environment. We also know there is more work to do, and hopefully common sense and reliable science will allow us to continue to do that, rather than politics and questionable science forcing bad environmental policies.