The Ag-Thankful Series in November was such a hit, I still have a few lingering posts to share with you. This one from from Darcy Maulsby, an Iowa State graduate, farmer and ag-journalist. Hope you enjoy reading why Darcy is Ag-Thankful.

Thank goodness for our farmers, because they hold our future in their hands.

Nobel Laureate and former Iowa farm kid Norman Borlaug understood this when he noted that “you can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery.”

People are often surprised to learn that fewer than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living today. While some people think that’s an alarming statistic, I think it’s amazing that so few can feed so many.

My family is still raising the same crops in the same Iowa fields that we’ve farmed for four generations, but improved seed genetics, new technology, and better management allow us to produce more with less. In my great-grandfather’s day, for example, corn yields of 100 bushels per acre that were considered good pale in comparison to today’s yields that consistently reach 200 bushels per acre or higher.

That’s great news for a hungry world, since one acre of Iowa corn can become:

  • 3,937 hamburgers
  • 79,800 bowls of cereal
  • 9,100 pork chops

My friends at the Iowa Corn Growers Association and Iowa Corn Promotion Board also note that this same acre of corn can also produce 5,512 pounds of starch for use in paper, textiles, adhesives and food, two tons of compostable plastic (plus corn oil and livestock feed), and much more.

Impressive, isn’t it?

While technology will continue to transform how farmers feed the world, I’m thankful that some things will never change. It still takes a mountain of knowledge to care for the soil and protect water quality while producing a safe, abundant food supply. It still takes farm families like mine who know there are easier, higher-paying jobs out there but can’t imagine wanting to live any other life.

Most of all, it’s still worth noting that the essential professions is a short one. While our culture focuses a great deal of attention on future NFL athletes and Hollywood celebrities, I’m thankful for America’s farmers. In the words of cowboy poet Baxter Black, for every 100 rock stars and Heisman trophy winners our country produces, we better make sure we spend enough to train at least two future farmers, so the rest of them can eat.

Maybe it’s this understanding that prompted an anonymous author to write this poem that appeared in a local Iowa farm paper years ago:

Just a Farmer

“Just a farmer,” you said

And I laughed, ‘cause I knew

All the things that farmers

Must be able to do.

They must study the land.

Then watch the sky

And figure just when

Is the right time and why—

To sow and plant

To buy and sell

To go to the market

With corn and well—

You know the books

That farmers must keep,

To pay all those taxes

And be able to sleep.

And you know the fixin’

That farmers must do.

When machines like mad monsters

Blow a gasket or two.

I guess when God needed

Folks to care for His earth

He chose “just farmers,”

‘Cause he knew their true worth.

About Darcy: A lifelong Iowan, Darcy Maulsby grew up on a corn, soybean, and swine farm in Calhoun County near Lake City. She is proud to live just a mile south as the crow flies from this Century Farm, where you might find her running the combine during harvest. A veteran ag journalist and Iowa State University graduate, Darcy has written about agriculture and food for clients across the country for more than 10 years. You can visit Darcy online at, and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.