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Watch for farm census forms

Kentucky farmers are now in the process of receiving forms for the 2002 Census of Agriculture conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kentucky State Statistician Leland Brown urges farm operators to complete and return the census forms. He says a prompt return will save money by eliminating follow-up calls. The results, he says, will provide information for determining the success of a number of agricultural programs, assuring proper distribution of funding, and providing policy makers with information for planning.

Farmers get 19 cents of your food dollar

Changes in consumer food choices may affect the farmer’s share of the food dollar, but they don’t necessarily indicate a farmer’s profitability, says a University of Kentucky agricultural economist.

The farmer’s share of the food dollar is a statistic given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to represent how much farmers receive of a hypothetical dollar spent at the retail level. Currently, that statistic is 19 cents.

“So, less than 1/5 of the money spent by consumers for food goes to the farmer,” says Larry Jones, UK agricultural economist. “In fact, this farm share has been declining over time. For example, in 1972 the share was 32 cents on the dollar.

“Another way to look at this statistic is that 81 percent of consumer dollars spent for food reflects the value added to food for such things as processing, transportation, packaging, labor, advertising, and other factors associated with marketing food,” he says. “Looking at it that way provides some clues as to why the farm share has been declining.”

It’s no secret that consumers are demanding more convenience items and value-added products.

“They either want to buy a mix or even buy the cake already baked and ready to eat,” he says. “Consumers want convenience and that may mean individual portions, pre-packaged, pre-frozen, and ready-for-the-microwave products.”

Consumers are also eating more meals away from home and that is a contributing factor to the decline in the farmer’s share of the food dollar. Jones says that nearly half of all food expenditures these days are for food eaten away from home.

“The fact that the farmer’s share of the consumer dollar has declined does not address the profitability of farms,” he says. “Rather it is an indication that processing, transportation, and other marketing costs have increased far more rapidly than the value of raw farm products.”—Aimee D. Heald, UK Extension Communications Specialist

Preventing tractor accidents

The National Safety Council says 61 percent of farming-related deaths in Kentucky involve tractors, and nearly 70 percent of these fatalities are the result of tractor overturns.

Larry Piercy, Extension farm safety specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, says that less than half of Kentucky’s tractors are equipped with rollover protective structures (ROPS). Serious consequences from a tractor overturn can be prevented by simply equipping the tractor with ROPS.

Seat belt use can also prevent another significant source of tractor deaths and injuries that result from the operator being thrown from the tractor and run over. These accidents account for nearly a quarter of the tractor deaths in the state, and could be prevented. However, Piercy cautions that seat belts should only be used on tractors equipped with ROPS because their use on tractors without ROPS could actually increase the risk of overturn deaths.

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