Commissioner's Comments

Help me tell agriculture's story


Agriculture Commissioner James Comer

American farmers do more with less today than at any time in history. It’s an amazing success story that needs to be told.



Over the past 30 years, U.S. beef production per head has increased 40 percent and total carcass weight has risen 21 percent even as total numbers of beef cattle have declined 15 percent. That’s how we’ve managed to keep total beef production stable while numbers of beef cattle and beef cows have reached their lowest levels in 50 years. That’s also how American cattle farmers and ranchers can raise 20 percent of the world’s beef with 7 percent of the world’s cattle.

Poultry farmers produce 81 percent more meat per bird and 53 percent more eggs with 3 percent fewer hens compared to two generations ago. Pork producers get 176 percent more pork per sow with 44 percent fewer sows than in the 1950s. Corn growers produce 333 percent more corn on 11 percent fewer acres, thanks to yields that have grown six-fold in the postwar era.

These dramatic gains are due in large part to scientific advances that have enabled farmers to make much better use of resources than their parents and grandparents did. In the case of livestock, these gains also can be attributed to the fact that we take better care of our animals today. We shelter them from weather, pests, and predators. We give them the best veterinary care. We safeguard their health through the joint efforts of producers, private veterinary practitioners, and public-sector partners such as Kentucky’s state veterinarian’s office.

The end result of all this progress is that the United States enjoys the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world. This food supply is produced with minimal impact on the environment as farmers constantly identify better and more efficient ways to use their resources — precision agriculture, recycling, land conservation, minimal tillage, composting, more and better use of manure as fertilizer.

Sometimes, it seems as if all this progress is a well-kept secret. Headlines about American agriculture tend to be negative — when agriculture is covered in the media at all. Certainly, bad actors should be held accountable. But the public needs to be made aware of all the good things going on in agriculture.

That means we need to engage the public directly. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and its partners among Kentucky’s commodity groups work every day to promote Kentucky farmers and farm products. But the most effective advocate for agriculture is you, telling your story to customers, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.

It’s in your interest — indeed, it’s in everyone’s interest — to spread the facts about American agriculture as far and wide as we can. Let’s work together to tell the amazing success story that is American agriculture.