Big Ag: The Truth Behind the Modern American Farming Industry’s Size

In an environmental-focused world, established yet evolving industries like agriculture are unfairly dismissed, especially when playing such a crucial role. In today’s world, farmers must produce enough food to feed the rest of the population as more and more people pursue other professions. By 2016, each farmer was feeding 164 people per year

Yet the specialization and advancement of agriculture has led to a new idea of agriculture, which is encompassed by the misleading term Big Ag. 

So-called “Big Ag” is unfairly seen as a negative, corrupt industry. Big Ag is envisioned as a series of large yet cramped farms which create low-quality food products. But that’s not true. 

Big Ag feeds farmers and everyone not in the agriculture industry.  

In the late 18th century, many Americans, about 90%, lived on farms, producing foods or products for themselves. Today, it is approximately 1%, with more pressure on the remaining farmers to produce for those who no longer work in agriculture. With fewer people working in agriculture today despite an increasing population, America’s farmers must increase production to keep up with demand. 

According to the USDA, agriculture and its related industries, like foodservice or apparel, contributed $1.109 trillion to the US gross domestic production (GDP) in 2019, with the output of American farms contributing to $136.1 billion of that total. As of 2020, agriculture and its related industries provided 10.3% of US employment, or 19.7 million full- and part-time jobs. On-farm employment accounted for about 2.6 million of these jobs, or 1.4% of US employment. 

Agriculture is a big industry, with other industries depending on it. Food is necessary to live. Further, food products and byproducts can be used for other necessities we need. The growth of the US agricultural industry is a must in order to fulfill the needs of such a large population. 

Despite their large task, the modern agriculture industry is often portrayed in a negative light. This month, we will look at different arguments against the Big Ag myth and bust those claims. Next week, we’ll look at animal care. 

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