This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ag Day Breakfast

Early (for me) on St. Patrick's Day I jogged over to the Knights of Columbus Hall to attend the 2009 Jasper County Ag Day Breakfast.
From the parking lot it appeared that they had a good crowd, but there was plenty of seating inside.

For the $1.00 charge, the amount that the farmers would receive, we got eggs, pork sausage, toast, shredded potatoes, and orange juice. (Coffee or milk were also options.)
I picked up a couple of pages of statistics as I entered and took a look at them as I was eating. They were from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, and they ranked the state of Indiana and Jasper County on a variety of commodities. Jasper County was number 1 in the state for the total value of agricultural products sold and 165 of 3076 counties nationally. For grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas it was second in the state and 77th of 2933 counties nationally. It was first in milk and other dairy products from cows in the state and 57th of 2493 counties nationally. It was also first in the state for corn and 51st nationally.

I checked the internet to see if I could find other statistics, and found bits of data for 2008. We were only 2nd in corn (White County was 1, Benton 3, Carroll 4, and Newton 7), and tenth in soybeans.

I also enjoyed looking at the place mats. They had some information about how plants naturally produce chemicals to fight off disease, fungus, and insects, and that when they are injured, they are less nutritious. The implication was that if farmers pampered their plants by helping them with some additional chemicals, they would be good for you. I guess that is the chemical industry's response to the organic food movement. (Economists, by the way, tend to view the organic-food marketing as a method of price discrimination.)
When it was time to leave, I noticed that they had goodie bags with pens, notepads, keychains, and other fun stuff.
Here are some more statistics from the 2007 Census of Agriculture. Jasper County had 734 farms in 2007, up from 641 in 2002. The land in farms increased 21% from 280,368 acres to 340,339 acres. (I do not understand how that would have happened. What were those 60,000 acres being used for in 2002?) However, 137 of the farms had sales less than $1000 and another 53 had sales between $1000 and $4999. (If I took my garden produce to the farmers market and sold it, earning $100 or maybe even $200, would that make me a farmer? How can anyone selling less than $1000 worth of farm products be called a farmer? Maybe they will disappear if a bill in Congress passes.) On the other hand, 315 had sales more than $100,000, and 106 of those had sales more than $500,000.

Total market value of production was $293. 5 million, split almost evenly between crop sales and livestock sales. (I assume milk production would be in livestock sales.) Total government payments to farmers were $5,965,000.

As a bonus, when I got home, I noticed that the crocuses in my neighbor's yard were blooming. When I was a kid in Minnesota, where the winters are long and cold, I would find crocuses on the hillsides, and I was always very excited because it meant that winter was drawing to an end. Childhood memories can give some things special importance, and for me crocuses are one of those things.


Desert Survivor said...

Sounds like a great breakfast! I didn't realize Jasper County was such an important ag producer in Indiana, in the top two for a number of items.

My crocuses bloomed earlier this week--it seems spring has come so suddenly. Even the apricot tree is blooming, which means we're certainly going to have a hard freeze.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for attending these events that one hears about. I get a sense of what is going on.