60 Sec. Video: How Farmers are Feeding and Fueling America


America’s farmers have it pretty tough these days. Despite being on the front lines of food production and explaining over and over again that climate change and fossil fuel volatility- NOT ethanol production– is what’s to blame for rising food costs, a lot of people just don’t get the message. That’s where this great 60 second video comes in.

The actual text of the video goes like this …

In 1960, the average US farmer fed just 26 people. Today, that farmer feeds 155 people, growing more on every acre every year.

And that’s not all — America’s farmers produce feed for cows and pigs and chickens… and grow enough to fuel our cars and trucks with cleaner, renewable fuels. That’s more than 13 billion gallons of renewable fuel powering our cars and 34 million tons of animal feed in 2012 alone.

How do they do it? Through innovation and technology, farmers are growing more crops on the same land, more sustainably. From soybeans to corn to wheat, yields are up by as much as 64% since 1980, and they continue to rise. Water use? Down by up to 75%. Soil erosion? Down between 30% and 60%. Energy use to grow crops? It’s been cut by half.

And now, farmers are diversifying by using land not suitable for crops to grow more feedstocks (non-edible plants like switchgrass that can be made into advanced renewable fuel). More food, more feed and more fuel, more efficiently. And we’re just getting started.

… but it’s the chunky animation that makes me smile- and I think I spotted one of the New Holland fuel-cell tractors in there, just before the part about the switchgrass.


Source | Video: Fuels America.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • egogg


    Brought to you by those wild and crazy geneticists at Monsanto.

  • Using natural gas (to make fertilizer) and oil to overstimulate farming is not sustainable. First of all, putting chemicals on the soil *kills* off the natural decomposition processes in the soil – and this reverses the life-building and instead extracts nutrients. This in turn lowers the ability of the soil to absorb and hold water, and this causes greater erosion.

    Monocultures are an anathema – and oversimplified environments are totally unhealthy. Pests can run rampant and nutrients are used lopsidedly – and a LOT of water is pumped out of the deep fossil water aquifers, in order to make this work.

    The fertilizers used are water soluble, so they run off in the first rain or irrigation flow, and this poisons the water, and overstimulates plant in the water, which produces too much oxygen, which then kills everything in the water. This dead water flows eventually out to the ocean causing dead zones. Add overfishing and plastic laden refuse to this, and the oceans are in deep distress.

    And soon the nitrogen becomes nitrous oxide – a very strong greenhouse gas.

    We simply must return to fully organic agriculture, and avoid the numerous problems that factory farming causes. We need to have many more people employed, and we need to again *improve* the soil by fitting into the cycle of life. We end up with MUCH better tasting food, grown locally and in season, and we would be far healthier, and we greatly reduce our carbon footprint.

    I like the quote from Wendell Berry:

    “Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm – which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of America farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.”

    • egogg

      Exactly. Not sure why corporate farm propaganda has made it onto my favorite green car blog.

      • Christopher DeMorro

        Basically, I threw out my back yesterday and Jo had to scramble to find stories to cover for me.

        Also, Jo has a soft spot for anything ethanol. He likes the idea of drinking it straight from the pump.

      • Jo Borras

        Because ethanol is awesome and farmers know farming better than pundits?

        • egogg

          Ethanol is only awesome if it’s cellulosic (which, admittedly, made it into the video). Anything touting the great things happening with megafarms, produced by megacorporations is suspect in my book.

        • Ethanol as we now do it is probably a net loss of energy – though it is required for making gasoline burn cleaner, as I understand it. But corn is so heavily subsidized, it is a very distorted commodity – we use way too much corn syrup in our food and it is an inefficient fuel source.

        • Jim McMullan

          This is not about farmers at all. Not the Mom and Pop farmers that come to mind when the average person hears that word. In 1900, there were approximately 5,000 employees in the Agriculture Department and 500,000 family farms. By 2000, there were 500,000 AD employees and…..50,000 family farms [owned operated and run by an actual family].

          Our governments [state and federal] have failed family farmers in every way imaginable. But corporate farmers [DOW, ADM and all the other corporate creatures on this list: http://www.fuelsamerica.org/pages/about%5D are doing GREAT! They love the RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD and the latest TRILLION DOLLAR Farm Bill. It’s amazingly awesome corporate welfare. Try watching the documentary KING CORN. Corporate farming at its worst.

          Egogg and Neil are right – this is nothing but propaganda. I knew it the minute I saw the Source Link on the email.

          We have high expectations for Gas 2.0 – that’s why I wrote.


          • I’ll add that GMO’s are actually a mechanism for agribusiness to control their profits. And superweeds are proving Darwin correct – if anybody needed proof.

            Patents on a DNA are bogus, just like money being speech and corporations being people.

    • Jo Borras

      How do you respond to reports that large scale organic farming can’t support enough food to feed the current, growing global population? How do you respond to the farmers claims that they are using much less water than 20 years ago and the statistics that back their claims?

      • egogg

        Not sure what Neil would say, but I would say we need global population control. I’m not deluding myself into thinking mankind will EVER have the self restraint to enact and enforce population control, but there you have it.

        • DJBabyBuster

          Population control is the end all solution to nearly every problem.

        • If we humans do things right, then population “control” is built in to what we do. All life returns to the earth, and if we humans can use our brains to stop screwing things up so badly, then we will be fine – in my opinion.

          Climate change, pollution, plastic, overfishing, etc. etc. are massive problems, and unfortunately will probably kill many, many people.

      • Those reports are not correct. Organic farming is the only way that we can feed everybody – in the long term. Because chemical fertilizers and pesticides are *killing* the soil* – and pumping lots of fossil water and depleting the aquifers. We are also causing climate change by burning fossil fuels – and this is another huge challenge.

        Organic farming *improves* the soil over time, and therefore is the only way we can continue. It will require more people – but this is a good thing! We need more and better jobs, and we need to do this locally – we cannot depend on cheap oil to ship food an average of 1,400 miles. Most food needs to be grown within 50 miles and 100 or so, tops.

        Look in Google Earth at all the 1/2 mile and 1 mile circles all over this country, and in many parts of the world. The brown (abandoned!) circles outnumber the green ones that are still in use. We use an incredible amount of water for most crops, and a lot for meat, too. It takes something like 5,000 liters of water to produce just 1kg of beef, for instance.

        Cows need to eat grass; not corn and soybeans – which make them sick. If people ate less meat then a LOT of crop land would be available to feed people.

        We have to stop factory farming meat – this reduces the calories by 20:1 or more, and the use of antibiotics and growth hormones are causing huge problems for us all.

        I recommend watching Food Inc. (on Netflix) or reading Omnivore’s Dilemma or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.