I’ve finally found out what’s wrong with agriculture.

Farmers, equipment dealers, equipment makers, agronomists and everyone else associated with agriculture are too busy doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

What’s wrong with that?

Well, we’re too busy feeding people that we don’t make time to do some good old PR for ourselves. Not until we’re under direct attack do we think we need to make a case for the value agriculture literally brings to the American table and how integral ag is to keeping the economy afloat.

We’re too busy growing corn and beans and wheat and cattle and milking cows to note that the Federal Reserve recently published a white paper — "A Rural Rebound in 2010" that says U.S. agriculture is what’s driving our economic recovery. 

And we’ve been too busy to tell folks about the new report from the Economic Research Service of USDA that demonstrates how U.S. farm producers get less than 12 cents of every dollar Americans spend on food. That report was released last month. It’s entitled, “A Revised and Expanded Food Dollar Series: A Better Understanding of Our Food Costs.”

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, (R-Cheyenne), noted recently that given these facts, one would think that Washington would work overtime to promote a positive business environment that would allow American agriculture to unleash its full production potential. Instead, there are no fewer than 10 new regulatory assaults being waged upon the American farmer and rancher today, threatening to bog down producers with higher costs, burdensome paperwork and legal uncertainty.

Collin Peterson (D-MN), the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, has suggested that Congress reign in the EPA. He said, "They're raising costs for [farmers], they're raising the price of food, and I don't think they're accomplishing anything."

According to other published reports, the “EPA has opened no fewer than 10 fronts against rural America with head-scratching goals, such as mandating how much dust farms can kick up and treating dairies like oil rigs to prevent milk spillage.”

For your reference when spreading the word that rising commodity prices are not behind the recent rise in food prices, here’s how the new and improved and more scientific study of 2008 food costs breaks out:

  • Food & Agribusiness                        11.6 cents
  • Food Processing                              18.6 cents
  • Packaging                                          4.0 cents
  • Transportation                                    3.5 cents
  • Retail Trade                                      13.6 cents
  • Food Services                                  33.7 cents
  • Energy                                               6.8 cents
  • Finance & Insurance                         4.4 cents
  • Other                                                 3.8 cents

The study also points out the 11.6 cents portion of food costs that go to farmers is down from the nearly 20 cents USDA calculated using a different method in the past.

So what’s driving food costs higher? It’s food services (restaurants, etc.), according to the USDA report. So not only do Americans want better but cheaper food, more of us also want someone else to cook and serve it to us.