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50 fascinating facts about farming in America

  • Soybean production is key to making crayons

    Most of the soybeans grown in the U.S. go toward feeding livestock, but they’re also used in the production of other goods like crayons. One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons.

  • Every baseball requires 150 yards of wool

    The United States is home to 47 breeds of sheep. One pound of wool can make 10 miles of yarn. Inside a baseball, the core is wrapped in 150 yards of wool yarn.

  • Windbreaks provide protection for American fruit farms

    Tall, dense lines of trees are often planted around the edges of fruit farms. They act as windbreaks to protect trees and help prevent soil erosion.

  • 45.6 million acres of US cropland was used for wheat in 2019

    One bushel of wheat weighs about 60 pounds and contains about 1 million individual kernels. It can yield about 42 pounds of white flour, 60 pounds of whole wheat flour, about 45 24-ounces boxes of wheat flake cereal, or about 42 pounds of pasta. More than 45 million acres of cropland was used to grow wheat in 2019.

  • The invention of the wheat combine in 1934 changed farming forever

    American Hiram Moore’s invention of the wheat combine allowed for the automated process of removing wheat heads from stems and separating out the kernels. Each head on a stem of wheat contains about 50 kernels. Wheat is ready to be harvested when it dries out and turns golden.

  • Dairy cows in the US produced 218 billion pounds of milk in 2018

    On average, a dairy cow produces 6.3 gallons of milk a day and 46,000 glasses of milk a year. It takes 350 squirts to make a gallon of milk. As with any mammal, to produce milk a cow must give birth. Calves are separated from their mothers so that milk can be siphoned off for commercial production. Dairy calves are typically impregnated every year.

  • Net losses at US farms are on the rise

    The number of U.S. farms reporting net losses between 2012 and 2017 rose 1.2% to 1.15 million. The number of farms reporting net profits dropped 8.3% to fewer than 900,000. The median household income among all farms was about $76,000 in 2017, higher than the median $61,000 for all households.

  • Farmers are getting older

    The average age of an American farmer is 58, up 1.2 years in half a decade. The average age of an organic farmer, meanwhile, is 52.

  • Most farmers need outside work to make ends meet

    Only two in five small farmers in the United States turn a profit each year, and about two-thirds work another job. Slightly more than half of U.S. farms are very small, with annual sales of less than $10,000.

  • Less than 1% of US farmland is organic

    The average size of an organic farm is 285 acres, far less than the average of 444 acres for all U.S. farms. Most of the organic food consumed in the U.S. is imported.

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