Research Paper on the Importance of Agriculture
Mrs. Pearce/ PreAP English II
9 May 2016
How Agriculture Affects the Society We Live In
Society today has gotten just about as far from its roots as is physically possible. We have forgotten all about the roots which brought us here in the first place, agriculture. Though agriculture sustains almost every industry known to man in some form or fashion, from the fabrics of the fashion industry, to the demand for metal and oil from the mining industry, people now more often than not fail to grasp the breadth of agriculture and have ways in which it impacts us. In order to understand how our society functions, one must first understand how agriculture has caused our population to explode in number, sustained the world economy, and where agriculture may take us in the near future.
To study the impact of agriculture on the world’s economy we’re going to look at a small piece of the world which is one of the world’s leading agricultural exporters. According to the USDA’s official website, agriculture contributes about $835 billion to the U.S. economy every year. This is about 5 percent of the total GDP (the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period) which is a small portion, but still extremely sizeable in sizeable in impact. By comparison, investopedia.com reports that the next top agricultural producers are the Netherlands at $79 billion, Germany at $70.8 billion, France with $68 billion, and Brazil coming in with $55.4 billion. The Agriculture industry also employs a large number of American workers in order to produce it’s yearly haul of goods. According to a report done by the United States Department of Agriculture, there are currently over 3 million farmers working from dawn to dusk in order to produce the food that the world so desperately needs. Though this is a large and very respectable number, there is a problem with it. The average age of American farmers continues to get older and older. In 1947 the average farmer was aged near fifty years old, but now, the average American farmers is just over 65 years old, an increase of nearly 17%. There is a growing number of young people working in agriculture though. In 2009 it was reported by the United States Department of Labor that nearly 720,000 people under the age of 20 were employed either on family farms, or an unrelated employer’s farm. If this number can continue to grow, Americans may see the youngest generation of farmers ever within the next 50 years, but this will not happen unless kids are shown that there are a multitude of careers within agriculture by organizations like the FFA and 4H.
Along with this, the world’s population continue to grow at an impressive rate. Expected to nearly double by the year 2050 according to The Worldwatch Institute, the Earth’s people continue to prosper ever faster despite the fact that their sustaining fuel, food and water, are given less and less land to be cultivated on every day.The Worldwatch Institute also maintains that, as knowledge and technology within agriculture advance, the world’s population has been able to grow at a rate of 1.3% per year for the last 45 years, meanwhile the amount of land available to grow food has remained virtually the same. This is due to the fact that of the “13 billion hectares of land on the Earth, cropland accounts for 11 percent, pastureland 27 percent, forested land 32 percent, and urban lands 9 percent.” The rest of the land on the Earth is deemed “unsuitable” for agriculture because “the soil is too infertile or too shallow to support plant growth, or the climate and region are too cold, dry, steep, stony, or wet.”, reports The Worldwatch Institute.
From this information, it can be concluded that agriculture plays a vital role in the development of human society. From sustaining large shares of the world’s economies, to sustaining a rapidly increasing population, agriculture is the backbone of life as we know it today. Without it, humans would still be simple nomads roaming the plains of the world and being dictated by the whims of mother nature, or we very well could have all died off by now. Thankfully though, we do not for certain know the answer to this question because we have been blessed with the knowledge of how to grow and sustain populations of plants and animals, and how to harvest them in a manner that keeps us alive.