By Ed Lentz

Farmers have seen financial difficulties for the past five years. Low grain prices have been a recurring theme during these years.

However, the American consumer has more choices in foods, at affordable prices, than they have ever seen.

The typical American spends about 10 percent of their total budget on food. Around 1900, it was 40 percent of the budget and in 1950, around 30 percent.

For every dollar a consumer spends on food, the farmer receives only about 15 cents. The rest of the dollar covers transportation, distribution, packaging, and marketing costs.

Thirty years ago, the Findlay-Hancock Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee started the annual Farmers’ Share Breakfast to celebrate our agriculture heritage and to remind the public how little a farmer receives from every dollar spent on food.

This year the breakfast will be at a new location, the Old Millstream Centre at the Hancock County Fairgrounds, on March 14, which is National Ag Day.

Breakfast buffet starts at 7:30 a.m. followed by a short program, generally ending before 9 a.m. As in the farm tradition, the breakfast is a hearty meal of meats, eggs, potatoes, and breads.

During the program, the district FFA public speaking winner will deliver their winning agriculture speech, followed by an agriculture year in review, and closing with the naming of the new inductees to the Hancock County Agriculture Hall of Fame.

The Agriculture Hall of Fame recognizes individuals with ties to Hancock County who have made major contributions in agriculture, either as a farmer or in an agriculture-related field. Four individuals have been recognized annually since 2006.

A ticket is required to attend the Farmer’s Share Breakfast, which can be purchased at the Findlay-Hancock Chamber of Commerce, 123 E. Main Cross St., Findlay, or at the Hancock County Extension Office, 7868 Hancock County 140, Suite B, Findlay. Tickets cost $5 and need to be purchased in advance.

Tickets for this popular event sell out quickly, so purchasing sooner rather than later would be a good idea. Tickets should be purchased by March 11.

During the breakfast, individuals can also pre-order whole pork sausage from the Findlay-Hancock Chamber Agribusiness Committee. Funds raised from the sausage sale provide educational scholarships to Hancock County students pursuing degrees or training in an agriculture-related field.

Sausage is sold in 3-pound packages for $10. Pre-orders are requested. Sausage can be seasoned or unseasoned and picked up at the Legacy Lawn and Pet Center, 6566 Hancock County 236, Findlay, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 6.

Pre-orders can also be made by calling the Findlay-Hancock Chamber of Commerce at 419-422-3313.

Other agricultural events that individuals may want to attend this spring include the Hancock County Cattlemen’s Beef Banquet and the Hancock County Sheep Association’s Lamb Banquet.

The beef banquet will be held at the Jenera Community Center, 18800 Ohio 698, Jenera, on March 9 at 6 p.m. Beef brisket will be the main part of the meal. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from Charlie Beagle at 419-722-1925.

The lamb banquet will be held at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 9340 Township Road 32, Jenera, on March 23 at 6 p.m.

Lamb chops, roast lamb, and lamb burger will be the main part of the meal. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the OSU Extension Office. Contact Gary Wilson for additional information at 419-348-3500

I close this week’s column with some other agriculture facts provided by the Farm Bureau:

• Farm and ranch families comprise less than 2 percent of the U.S. population.

• There are about 2.1 million farms in the U.S. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. farms are operated by families as individuals, family partnerships, or family corporations.

• More than 20 percent of all farmers are beginning farmers, in business less than 10 years.

• Women make up 30 percent of the total number of U.S. farm operators.

• Each U.S. farmer annually feeds 165 people. By 2050, world population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion, which means farmers will have to grow 70 percent more food than what is currently produced to meet demand.

• Pizza includes all the major farm products: grain (flour), vegetables, meat and dairy. Americans consume more than 3 billion pizzas annually. The average family eats pizza at home 30 times each year.

• Farming accounts for about 1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic production.

• The U.S. exports more food and fiber than what is imported, creating a positive agriculture trade balance.

• Farm programs typically cost each American just pennies per meal and account for less than one-half of 1 percent of the total U.S. budget.

All of these events are open to the public. I would encourage people to take part in celebrating Hancock County’s agriculture heritage, especially at the Farmers’ Share Breakfast.

Lentz is extension educator for agriculture and natural resources for the Ohio State University Extension Service in Hancock County. He can be reached at 419-422-3851 or via email at lentz.38@osu.edu.

Lentz can be heard with Vaun Wickerham on weekdays at 6:35 a.m. on WFIN, at 5:43 a.m. on WKXA-FM, and at 5:28 a.m. at 106.3 The Fox.

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