AG Luncheon celebrates farmers

| April 4, 2018

COSHOCTON – Agriculture is the number one industry in Coshocton County and has a market value of more than $81 million. The fourth annual Ag Day Celebration Luncheon was held on Tuesday, March 20, National Ag Day, to celebrate farmers not only in Coshocton County, but those across the United States. This year’s theme is Food for Life.

The luncheon was held at Canal Lewisville United Methodist Church and was catered by Shrimplin’s Catering, LLC. Emily Adams of Coshocton County OSU Extension gave the welcome.

“Part of the effort in celebrating this day is to encourage young people to look at agriculture as a possible career field,” she said.

She stated that 3.75 million Americans are employed in agriculture and that one in 12 Americans are dependent on agriculture for their business. She also said that by 2022, statistics predict that there will be a 19 percent decline in agriculture jobs.

“What you do is important and that’s why we’re here today is to celebrate you and what you do every day,” she said.

Vernon Mizer then gave the invocation and Leila Andrews recited the FFA Creed. The luncheon featured two speakers, Nate McNeal, retired agriculture teacher, and Gary Fischer, county commissioner.

McNeal gave a timeline of farming in the United States beginning in the 1940s through modern-day farming.

In the 1940s, 23.4 percent of the population were farmers which made up 18 percent of the total labor force. There were 6,102,000 farms and the average size was 175 acres. One farmer fed 10.7 people. This was also the time when a change was being made from horses to tractors.

At that time, 12 hours of labor was required to produce 100 bushels, or two acres, of corn with a tractor and equipment. Approximately 42 hours of labor was required to produce 100 pounds of cotton with horses and equipment. Extension agents also worked in every county in the United States including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

In the 1950s, the percentage of farmers dropped significantly to 16.6 percent. The number of farms went from more than six million to 5,388,000 and the average size of a farm was 216 acres. One farmer fed 15.5 people. The number of tractors on farms exceeded the number of horses for the first time ever.

“I remember Tony and Joe, Dad’s horses,” said McNeal. “I also remember my first time driving a tractor. It was a little John Deere H. I had to stand between my Dad’s knees so I could see over the hood.”

At that time, it took approximately 6.5 hours to produce 100 bushels of wheat, and anhydrous ammonia was first being used as a cheap source of nitrogen. In the 1950s, 71 percent of farms had a car, 49 percent had a telephone, and 93 percent had electricity.

In the 1960s, the percentage of farmers dropped by half at 8.5 percent. The number of farms dropped as well to 3,711,000, and the average size was 303 acres. One farmer fed 25.8 people.

Five hours of labor were required to produce 100 bushels of wheat using a tractor and equipment. It was also at this time that the government first used food surpluses to help feed the needy.

In the 1970s, 4.75 percent of the population were farmers. The number of farms was still decreasing at 2,780,000 and the average size of a farm was 390 acres. One farmer fed 47.7 people. It took 3.75 hours of labor to produce 100 bushels of wheat using equipment, and no tillage became popular. Hog cholera was finally eradicated. In the 1970s, 90 percent of farms had phones and 98.6 had electricity.

In the 1980s and 1990s, approximately 2.6 percent of the population were farmers. The number of farms had decreased to 2,143,150, and the average size of a farm was 461 acres. One farmer fed 100 people and information technology use increased in America.

In today’s agriculture, about two percent or less are farmers. The number of farms is 3,200,000 and the average size of small farms is 231 acres. The average size of a large farm is 1,421 acres and a very large farm is 2,086 acres. The increase in the number of farms is a result of how farms are being classified. One farmer now feeds 165 people and 70 percent of farms have internet.

In Coshocton County, there are 1,122 farms covering 169,762 acres for an average of 151.3 acres.

“Farmers are some of the most intelligent people in our country and always have been,” said McNeal. “Over the past 70 years, we have grown from feeding only 10 people per farmer to over 160. How many industries can show that kind of growth? I have been truly blessed to be able to have had a small part in the agriculture industry in Coshocton County.”

Gary Fischer, Coshocton County Commissioner, talked about Coshocton County’s rank in farming in the state of Ohio.

According to the USDA Census, Coshocton County places in the top 10 of all 88 counties in forage land use, broilers, and chickens, and places in the top 20 of all 88 counties in hogs, pigs, cattle, and calves.

“That makes me proud to live in Coshocton County,” said Fischer.

Fischer then said that many businesses in Coshocton County depend on agriculture to thrive and survive.

“We as the Board of Coshocton County Commissioners are honored to be a part of this day,” he said. “We are rich in heritage, rich in tradition, and we join the rest of you and the rest of this nation in saying thank you.”

Adams gave some closing remarks.

“What you do in your occupation is important but the character of the people in agriculture is amazing,” she said. “You serve on committees, you’re involved in your church, you’re coaches for your children, and you volunteer in schools. All the things you do to make this a better place to live is appreciated and I thank you for that. I’m very grateful for all of you and the lives you live and the way you serve this community.”

Read more about farming in our community in Down on the Farm!

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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