Today's Farmer - Fun Farm Facts
Agriculture is more than cows and crops. It is a web of product, producer,
distributor and consumer and how they depend on each other for survival
Being a successful farmer today requires knowledge of advanced technology,
educational preparation and business skills.
- Copy and paste the Farm Facts to a word processing document.
- Categorize the facts according to the following themes:
- Farm Size
- Farm Products
- Ag Business
- Computers on the Farm
- The Hard Work of Farming
- Share your list with your teacher when completed.
- The College of Agriculture at Iowa State University provides education
courses for farming. Common programs of study include agronomy, dairy
science, agricultural economics and business, agricultural and biological
engineering horticulture, crop and fruit science, and animal science.
- Because of the cost of machinery, fertilizers, feed and seed, today's
farmers make many business decisions.
- Farmers of livestock work throughout the year. Animals must be fed
and watered daily. Dairy cows must be milked two or three times a day.
- The number of Iowa farmers is expected to continue to decline because
farms are growing larger and larger in number of acres and many farmers
- Farmers do a lot of different tasks ranging from caring for livestock
to operating machinery and maintaining equipment.
- Farmers may learn about agriculture through a training program at
a college or university.
- Some small farms can be successful because of new markets for specialized
farm products such as sod, ornamental plants, Christmas trees, flowers,
bulbs, shrubbery, and fruits and vegetables grown in greenhouses.
- In Iowa, most farmers raise corn, soybeans and hogs. However, some
Iowa farmers raise many other kinds of farm products including llamas,
goats, emus, turkeys, chickens, sheep and horses to name just a few.
- Growing up on a family farm and participating in groups like 4-H or
FFA are important educational experiences for those interested in farming
as a career.
- Operating a farm is expensive. Farmers must budget for the cost of
land and machinery as well as livestock, feed, seed, and fuel for machinery.
- Farm work can be hazardous. Tractors and other farm machinery can
cause serious injury and workers must be constantly alert on the job.
- Weather, disease, fluctuations in prices of farm products and federal
farm programs affect how much grain farmers can grow.
- Modern farming is very financially complex. Farmers compete for the
best market for their crops and livestock.
- Some farmers sell their products at farmer's markets in towns and
- Some farmers own their land while others rent land.
- Email, online journals and e-newsletters from agricultural organizations
help farmers stay up-to-date on the latest scientific information.
- Operators of large farms have employees who help with the farm work.
- Horticultural specialty farmers oversee the production of ornamental
plants, nursery products-such as flowers, bulbs, shrubbery, and sod-and
fruits and vegetables grown in greenhouses.
- Iowa farmers try to learn as much about farming as possible. The
Internet allows quick access to the latest information about farming
and the markets.
- As farming practices and machinery becomes more complicated, farmers
spend more time in offices and at computers, where they electronically
manage many aspects of their businesses.
- Farmers on crop farms usually work from sunrise to sunset during
the planting and harvesting seasons. During the rest of the year they
plan next season's crops, market their products and repair machinery.
- Because operating a farm today is complicated, many farmers use computers
to keep financial and inventory records.
- Work hours are frequently long and days off are rare during the planting,
growing, and harvesting seasons.
- Some farmers inherit their land. However, purchasing a farm or additional
land requires a lot of money.
- Some farmers use the Internet to get the latest prices of farm products.
- Livestock farmers and dairy farmers attend to the health of their
animals. This may even include assisting with birthing. To go on vacation,
these farmers must hire an assistant or arrange for a temporary substitute.
- An increasing number of small-scale farmers are successful because
of personalized direct contact with customers.
- Some farmers attend educational conferences where they learn about
new scientific innovations, government programs and the latest machinery.
- Crop farmers are responsible for planning, tilling, planting, fertilizing,
cultivating, spraying, and harvesting. After the harvest, they make
sure the crops are properly packaged, stored, or marketed.
- Modern farming requires increasingly complex scientific, business,
and financial decisions. Therefore, even people who were raised on farms
must acquire the appropriate education.
- Many farmers are finding opportunities in organic food production
as more consumers demand sustainable farming methods. These techniques
involve raising food with a minimum of chemicals.
- Livestock, dairy, and poultry farmers must feed and care for the
animals while keeping farm buildings clean and in good condition.
- Some farmers earn additional income by working a second job off the
- Some small-scale farmers, such as some dairy farmers, belong to collectively
owned marketing cooperatives that process and sell milk products.
- To be successful, today's farmers need both formal education and
- American farmers produce enough food to meet the needs of our whole
country with extra grain and meat to export to other countries.
A Day in the Life of a Farmer Continued…
Photos used by permission from the USDA
Online Photography Center.