Column: Ag by the numbers
Without question, producing food has been the single most important vocation in human history. Farming and ranching helped pave the way for modern civilization.
Today, as in the past, feeding the world is vital to our growth as a community, region, state and nation. Our ability to produce the safest, most wholesome food in the world has allowed us to progress as a civilization.
When we think of food production, our state and the farmers and ranchers who farm our fertile soil rank with the best in production agriculture. The Sunflower State ranks at the top when it comes to crop and livestock production.
In 2009, Kansas's farmers produced crops worth a total value of $6,896,254,000 according to Bob White, Kansas Agricultural Statistics. Livestock value of production accounted for another $6,130,339,000.
Kansas's farmers and ranchers produced this bountiful harvest on 65,500 farms last year. The average size of farm is 705 acres.
Kansas led the country in milo production last year, when our state produced 224,400,000 bushels. We also produced the third most sorghum silage with a total of 440,000 tons.
Our state ranked second in wheat production with 369,600,000 bushels. We led the country in wheat flour milled with a total of 125,833,000 cwt. in '09.
The Sunflower State ranks third in the production of sunflowers. Kansas farmers produced 245,200,000 pounds last year. We placed fifth in all hay produced with 7,225,000 tons and sixth in alfalfa hay produced with 3,665,000 tons.
Kansas corn producers ranked seventh in 2009, producing 598,300,000 bushels. In soybean production, Kansas now ranks ninth with 160,600,000 bushels.
Our state remains one of the most diversified in the nation. Our farmers and ranchers also produce dry edible beans, oats, corn silage, rye, barley and summer potatoes. Specialty crops like pecans, fruits, vegetables and popcorn are produced in our rich Kansas soil.
Kansas ranked third in the number of all cattle and calves with 6-million head at the beginning of this year. Our state also ranked third in cattle on feed for processing with a total of 2,370,000 head. Kansas ranked third in red meat processing with 5,283,200,000 pounds. Hog inventories ranked 10th with 1,810,000 head.
The Sunflower State tied for 11th in market sheep with 30,000 head and 19th in all sheep and lambs with 80,000 head at the beginning of the year. Kansas farmers and ranchers also raise goats, turkeys, chickens, buffalo, ostriches and a few other exotic creatures.
Yes, Kansas is blessed with some of the finest farmland and farmers and ranchers in the world. By using this land wisely, with the help of the latest technology and research, we will continue to feed the hungry mouths of the world.
— John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. He was born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas.