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Country Life: Remember the Family Farm this Harvest Season October 4, 2013

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

I received a card from one of our Farm Bureau members. Enclosed with the envelope were 10 family passes to Mortimer Family Farms. For me, this invitation signals the year’s transition to my favorite time of year, fall.


It should also signal for all of us a time to celebrate the bounty of our harvests. Okay, your regular paycheck (or business revenue) is not exactly representative of a farm family bringing in the year’s crops. It’s a symbolic harvest of your own, however. Think of all those hours you put in to get where you are today. So celebrate. And, you can celebrate the more traditional harvest with the farmers every time you go to the grocery store. Plus, when the pumpkins are ready for picking this fall we can find fields open to the public for harvesting our own.


When we remember that more than 300,000,000 Americans are fed and clothed by less than 1% of our population (about 2% live on farms), we really need to be celebrating harvest time! According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are only about 960,000 persons claiming farming as their principal occupation and a similar number of farmers claiming some other principal occupation. The number of farms in the United States currently stands at approximately two million farms.

We could find so many uses with our small and large tractors including pulling us around in our red wagon.


The demographics on farming in America are a lesson in appreciation and wonder. American farmers feed you and I, feed themselves and then turn around and feed the world due, in part, to their continuing yield efficiencies. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture data, the vast majority of farms in the country (around 90%) are owned and operated by individuals or families. The next largest category of ownership is partnerships (less than 10%).


Farming is global and it will always make sense to import. Importing our Kiwi fruit will be a given. Africa is experiencing an agriculture boom … finally. We should see more imports of coffee, fish, tea, flowers, vanilla and rice coming from Africa. Though it remains a continent of episodic starvation and chronic food shortages, pockets of success in agriculture production are showing up … many of the lessons learned from our own agriculture experts teaching farm production to Africans.


However, let’s support and protect those commodities we grow well. I hope to never find us dependent on another country to feed and cloth us.


In all of this, it brings value to our lives to remember where our food comes from and celebrate America’s bounty. Despite this year’s weather conditions that have left some farms with poor yields, you’ll not even notice it at the counter when you pay for your groceries or toss that new pair of denim jeans in the back of your SUV. So if you remember, send up a prayer of thanks for this year’s harvest. And if you make it to one of your community’s harvest parties seek out a farmer and thank him or her.











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