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Agriculture

The science and work of raising crops and farm animals

Agriculture

Agriculture is a significant part of our lives. It creates thousands of jobs and puts food on our tables. It was the key to our development as a civilization. It allows us to produce on larger scales, distributing foods to people in urban and suburban environments. As a result,  people can pursue other activities that contribute to society in different ways.

When we talk about agriculture, what do we mean? How important is it to our way of life? Let’s explore the answers to these questions.

What Does It Involve?

Agriculture is synonymous with farming. The primary practice is cultivating plants and livestock for food and other products. There are several core aspects of the work, including cultivating the soil, maintaining land for livestock, slaughtering, and the sale of produce.

Many roles that support agriculture but aren’t involved directly in cultivation. They could include providing industrial equipment for farming, such as tractors and harvesting tools, breeding and selling livestock, selling seeds and plants to be used as crops, or veterinary care for farm animals.

Products include:

 

  • Cereals 
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Oils
  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Fungi
  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Sugar
  • Rubber

Agriculture in the US

The US has many natural resources and a lot of land, and the conditions are well suited to agriculture. The farming industry employs around 960,000 people, and there are more than two million farms. They make up around 89.5 million acres of farmland. Those include small holdings, family farms, and larger agricultural areas.

The total value of exports is estimated at $172 billion. Since the US has a diverse climate, different crops are grown across the country. The top crops in the US are:

  • Corn
  • Fruit
  • Cotton
  • Nuts
  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Vegetables
  • Soybean and oil
  • Wheat
  • Pulses

Industrial Agriculture

A significant portion of farming in the US is industrial agriculture. It’s large-scale intensive production of crops or livestock.

The practices can often involve chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and poor conditions for animals. It might also mean that corporations are receiving large profits while the farmers and workers are required to do more with fewer benefits.

The demand to provide food for a growing population means that practices have had to be scaled up. However, appropriate solutions for sustainable farming take longer to develop.

The Importance of Agriculture

Agriculture provides the food in our grocery stores. It also supplies many of the materials that are used to make products that we use in daily life. It contributes large amounts to the US economy and accounts for a large percentage of employment.

Agricultural practices contribute to climate change and can have negative impacts on ecosystems and the biodiversity of an area. Besides chemicals entering the soil and water, selective breeding plants and animals are changing our environment and causing damage.

Threats to Agriculture

As well as posing threats to our environment, agriculture is vulnerable to environmental issues. Common threats include:

  • Weeds
  • Insects
  • Disease

Agricultural workers on farms of any size have to contend with a warmer climate, soil degradation, extreme weather events, and biodiversity loss. Bees are essential to pollination to increase yields, which means anything that threatens bees can damage agricultural production.

Sources:

https://www.neefusa.org/nature/plants-and-animals/future-us-agriculture

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture#:~:text=The%20major%20agricultural%20products%20can,milk%2C%20eggs%2C%20and%20fungi.

https://www.statista.com/topics/1126/us-agriculture/#dossierContents__outerWrapper

https://agamerica.com/blog/power-of-10-top-10-produce-crops-in-the-u-s/

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/industrial-agriculture-101 

https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/ag-and-food-sectors-and-the-economy/

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