By 2050, the world population is expected to explode to 9.5 billion people, which is an additional 2 billion, or a 35% increase, in the number of people who inhabit the Earth today. To feed that many people, crop production will need to double.

Agriculture and the environment must work together to accomplish this task. Farmers have always been the driving force with the desire and natural incentive to conserve, while feeding an ever-increasing population.

Agriculture has come a long way over the past 150 years. In 1869, 90% of Americans lived in the countryside and produced food for a nation of only 38 million people.

Today, only 16% of us live in rural areas, less than 1% are farmers, and only one-tenth of farmers are growing 80% of the food that feeds 308 million Americans.

President Abraham Lincoln once said that the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. Similarly, each day, the advanced farming techniques employed by modern American farmers combine with the scientific and technical achievements of past generations to make American agriculture one of the strengths of this nation.

This progress is rooted in a spirit of cooperation that originated in the ethics of our immigrant ancestors, the earliest pioneers whose teamwork was the very essence of survival in the vast stretches of the American landscape. Agriculture has evolved, but still depends on cooperation and consensus.

In Indiana, that spirit of cooperation extends to the environment. Indiana ranks among the top states in the production of commodities, livestock and poultry.

In recent years, Indiana farmers have led the nation in cover crops, which now are the third-most planted crop in the state next to corn and soybeans.

As a result, more than 2.9 million pounds of nitrogen, 1.4 million pounds of phosphorus, and 1.2 million pounds of sediment were prevented from entering Indiana’s waterways.

Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Animal Science/Journal of Dairy Science showed that since the 1970s, hog farmers have decreased their carbon footprint by 35%, achieved a 41% reduction in water usage and a 78% decrease in land needed to produce a pound of pork.

Indiana farmers meet regulations that go beyond U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for regulated farms, which make them good stewards of the environment.

As the world’s population continues to grow, farmers will work every day to both feed people and take care of the earth. They know that America’s future depends on it.

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