Farms and Food
Providing a constant supply of food for the people of the country and world is a continuous task for farms and farmers. Unless people hunt for their food or grow their own, they have to rely on others who own and manage farms. Foods of all kinds are produced on farms. There are vegetable farms, dairy farms, vineyards, grain farms, orchards, poultry farms, rice farms, beef farms and pig farms. Some types of foods require special climates. Texas, Missouri, and Iowa have the greatest number of farms.
Ninety-nine percent of all U.S. farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. That means that only one percent of farms are owned by large corporations which do not deal with the everyday working of the farms. Many of these farms have been in the family's care for many years and passed down to children and grandchildren.
Dairy farming is one branch of food production. California, Wisconsin and New York are the top milk-producing states in the United States. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, of course, are the most well -known dairy products. However, milk in many forms is sold to producers of many other products for their use. A high-producing cow can give enough milk in one day to make ten and one-half pounds of cheese.
The top five states in the growing and production of vegetables are California, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Idaho. The vegetables grown the most to be sold in their fresh form are potatoes, lettuce, sweet corn, watermelon, and tomatoes. Potatoes are the top vegetable crop in the United States. They are grown in thirty states. The top two potato producing states are Idaho and Washington. However, China is now the world's biggest potato producer.
Fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and plums grow on trees in orchards. Apples need cooler temperatures. Grapes grow on vines. Berries of all kinds grow on bushes. Farmers usually specialize in growing one type of fruit. California is famous for grapes and therefore wine which is made from grapes. Georgia grows many peaches. Citrus farms producing oranges, lemons, and limes usually are found in warmer climates, like Florida and California.
Cattle farming is biggest in Texas, but North Dakota has the highest percentage of cows per person. Therefore, Texas farms or ranches produce the most beef in the United States. The average size herd of cattle on a ranch in the United States, however, is only 40 head of cattle.
Approximately thirty-five companies in the United States produce and sell all of the chicken. Twenty-five thousand chicken farmers contract with them to produce the poultry. These thirty-five companies can work to ensure the quality of product from farm to the grocery store with strict standards. About 25,000 family farmers have production contracts with the companies. Of course, some farmers concentrate on raising chickens just for their eggs.
Farmers grow rice in the southern states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. American rice producers grow twenty different varieties of rice. Eighty-five percent of the rice Americans eat comes from the United States. Rice grows in fields which have to be flooded because the plants must be covered with six-eight inches of water until harvest.
Each American farmer produces food and fiber for 165 people annually, both in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, the United States exports about twenty-five percent of its agricultural products every year.
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