CitizenJoe's food facts offer tidbits on two longstanding debates on the science and economics of farming; subsidies and genetically modified foods. But first, a bit of the lay of the farmland...

Farms - General

  • How much we spend on food: $616 billion, or 13% of our out-of-pocket expenses (Census - 2003)

  • How much goes to farmers in net income: $75 billion, and as gross profit: $239 billion (the rest goes to processing, distributing, etc.) (USDA - 2005)

Big farm/Small farm (USDA - pdf)

how many there are - small, medium and large

source: USDA

how much they produce - small, medium and large

  • Small family farms (that sell less than $250,000):

    • Are 92% of all farms;

    • Own 71% of farming related assets (including 67% of land);

    • Are responsible for 32% of all production.

  • Large family farms (that sell more than $250,000) and non-family farms:

    • are 8% of all farms;

    • own 29% of farming assets (including 33% of land);

    • produce 68% of our food.

Support to farmers:

  • Total subsidies to farmers:

    • In 2000: $23.5 billion (including $3 billion in conservation and disaster subsidies);

    • In 2002: $12.2 billion ($3 billion for conservation and disaster).

  • Amount of subsidies in 2002:

    • That went to the top 8% of farms: $7.3 billion (60%);

    • That went to the other 92%: $4.9 billion (40%).

For more on subsidies and where they go see EWG and the WP's special report.

Genetically Modified Foods

  • What they are: crops that are altered by splicing in genes from other plants or animals. Usually a GM crop will have a gene added from, say, a bacteria to make the crop either distasteful to pests (but still yummy for us) or resistant to herbicides. (Pew)

  • How long they've been around: since 1996. (Pew)

  • How many of our cropland is used for GMOs:

    • In the world: 200 million acres worldwide (roughly 22% of all cropland). (WHO - pdf) (2004)

    • In the U.S - 118 million acres (roughly 40% of all cropland in use) (WHO - pdf) (2004)

Who's making GMF - Percent of GMF around the world

GM growth around the world

How much of US crops are GM (2004)

  • Corn – 45%

  • Soybean – 85%

  • Cotton – 76%

  • Canola – 54% (2001)

  • Papaya – 50%

How much of our processed food contains GMOs:

  • about 75% (Pew - pdf)

Where the facts are from:

Fertile ground for more facts:

Facts pulled together with Vincent Greco. Updated Summer 2006.

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