DENVER—Colorado agriculture groups, including Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU), celebrated Ag Day by serving locally-produced foods to legislators at the Capitol here today.
“Handing legislators and others at the Capitol a cup of juice or other food product raised and processed right here in Colorado is a great way to underscore the importance of Colorado’s agricultural industry, the second largest sector in the state economy,” said RMFU President John Stencel.
According to the Agriculture Council of America, U.S. consumers spend approximately nine percent of their income on food compared with 11 percent in the United Kingdom, 17 percent in Japan, 27 percent in South Africa and 53 percent in India. In the 1960s, one farmer supplied food for 25.8 consumers. In 1994, each U.S. producer supplies 129 people with their food and fiber.
U.S. Census Bureau data indicates more than 30 million Americans lived on farms and ranches in the 1950s. Today only 4.6 million Americans engage in production agriculture. The United States has less than 2 million farms, less than one-third the 6.8 million U.S. farms in 1935. Many more people are employed in the agricultural sector. While less than 2 percent of the U.S. population are involved in producing food and fiber, 15 percent is employed in farm or farm-related jobs, including production agriculture, farm inputs, processing, marketing, and wholesale and retail sales.
“I’m concerned that we as a nation have come to take for granted the readily available, high-quality, reasonably-priced food that we consume,” Stencel said. “It is important that we keep a safety net in U.S. public policy for the producers whose operations are vulnerable to weather, market changes, price fluctuations, international trade, and many other variables.”
In addition to the celebration at the Capitol today, a panel of producers from RMFU, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Young Farmers, the Colorado Foundation for Agriculture, and the Colorado Egg Producers, answersedconsumer questions from 5:30-7:00am from the Channel 9 News studios.
Colorado Ag Day is held in conjunction with National Agriculture Week, which commences every year on the first day of spring.