This year’s National Agriculture Day theme, “Food brings everyone to the table,” could not be more fitting. Over the past year, we saw consumers emptying store shelves as they frantically bought food staples for their families and pets. Although the coronavirus pandemic revealed a few challenges within modern food systems, it also highlighted the important work millions of Americans do every day to grow crops and raise animals, to produce affordable food, and to deliver it fresh to the marketplace - all so we can sit down to a table and enjoy nutritious meals with our families.
It also gave us, within the animal food industry, an opportunity to share the unique and very important role we play in U.S. agriculture. Our 944,000 essential employees report to work each day to turn farm-grown crops and coproducts into nutritious feed for livestock and poultry (and thus, people) and food and treats for our pets. Today, we honor their extraordinary work – thank you!
For #AgDay, I would like to share a few fun facts you may have missed over the past year about the animal food industry and the important role we play in bringing food to your table.
- Last year, our manufacturing facilities in nearly every state fed nearly 284 million tons of safe, high-quality, and nutritious food to America’s domestic livestock and pets. This ensures these animals receive all the right nutrients at the various stages of their lives and that the resulting protein and dairy products your family consumes are nutritious.
- Our industry has a multiplier effect on the rural economy; for example, within the pet food industry alone, we purchased roughly 8.6 million tons of farm products (valued at $6.9 billion) from farmers and farm processors to make 9.8 million tons of pet food in 2019. Throughout the value chain, we are supporting rural businesses that provide our industry with materials, services, equipment and labor.
- We are sustainable. Roughly 47% of the total feed produced in the United States comes from co-products that may have otherwise found homes in landfills, which reduces food waste and our carbon footprint.
- Our top-notch nutritionists keep food-producing animals performing at their optimal efficiency, helping farmers and ranchers reduce costs while meeting growing consumer demand. We are also working diligently to research and bring new ingredients to the marketplace that promote better animal nutrition.
- We serve a global marketplace. In 2020, our industry exported $13 billion in feed, feed ingredients, and pet food, which not only supported the agriculture industry’s $2.5 billion trade surplus but also provided producers and pet owners with more options in the marketplace.
Whether it is food bringing everyone to the table or everyone – from farmers to truck drivers to our animal food manufacturing workers – bringing food to the table, the message is clear: when it comes to food, we all play a role.