We celebrate the ag community all year long, but we’re especially excited to recognize farmers and ranchers during National Ag Week. Afterall, farmers and ranchers feed the world and we couldn’t be more thankful for all their hard work. As you shop at your local grocery store, it’s easy to see all their contributions. But what about when you’re shopping for shoes, washing your hair, or installing new carpets at home? Did you know agriculture plays a part in those products as well? As consumers, we benefit from not only the meat and veggies that are distributed worldwide, but also the countless byproducts that we use every day.
Below we take a look at common crops and livestock that are used for both familiar and surprising products in your day-to-day life. If you know a farmer or rancher, be sure to thank them for all their tireless work that keeps America going!
Beef cattle are raised in all 50 states, totaling $93.6 million cattle and calves in the U.S. in 2021, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. America loves beef and we raise a lot of it! Top sirloin, brisket, rump roast, flank steak, and many more cuts are popular and easily found at a nearby meat market – thanks to farmers and ranchers! But you may not know that cattle farming also contributes to some of your favorite non-meat snacks, cleaning products, and other objects you use for hobbies.
From the Bones, Horns, and Hooves: Hair combs, dog biscuits, piano keys, marshmallows, gelatin desserts, dice, shampoo/conditioner.
From the Hide/Hair: Footwear, paintbrushes, saddles, asphalt binder, felt, upholstery.
From the Fats: Make-up, fireworks, medicines, floor wax, shaving cream, tires, antifreeze, dish soap, and ceramics.
From the Intestines: Surgical sutures, tennis racquet strings, instrument strings, and sausage casings.
The U.S. is the largest producer of corn in the world, by far2 and as one of the most versatile crops, the uses for corn are endless. When you think of corn you might first think of sweet corn on the cob, in the can or from the freezer but another type of corn is “field corn.” And there are many uses of field corn that may surprise you. Did you know that less than 1% of corn is sweet corn that is ready to eat from the field? Instead, most planted corn is used for things like ethanol production and feed for livestock.3 Corn is also frequently found in products and items that you use in your day-to-day life, and you may not even realize it!
From the Cob: Fermented beverages, floor wax, hand soap, dusting agents, wallpaper paste.
From the Starch: Abrasive papers, fireworks, paints, disinfectants, powdered makeup.
From the Glucose: Paper products, shoe polish, Rayon, dyes, inks.
From the Fermentation: Engine fuel, plastics, carpeting, food packaging.
From the Kernel: Pharmaceuticals, label adhesives, soluble oils, insecticides, rubber substitutes, textiles.
Source: Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
According to the American Soybean Association, the total value of the U.S. soybean crop in 2020 was $30.5 billion and 47% of the total production was exported.4 Soybeans are valuable, and we produce a lot of them in the United States. You’re probably familiar with common soy products like soy milk, soy sauce, and bean sprouts. But did you know soybeans are also used for crayons, candles, candy, and fish feed? Soybeans also offer helpful benefits like alternatives for individuals that are dairy intolerant and provide economically friendly fuel for diesel engines. Soybeans are the gift that keeps on giving and we’re so thankful to farmers for making them available to the world!
From the Bean: Soy sauce, bread, candy, doughnut mix, pancake flour, instant milk drinks, crackers.
From the Hull: High-fiber breads, cattle feed, filter material.
From the Proteins: Pharmaceuticals, fish feed, noodles, sausage casings, infant formula, cosmetics, plywood, particle board, plastics, candy, firefighting foams, asphalt emulsions, printing inks.
From the Oil: Shampoo, waterproof cement, candles, fungicides, detergents, chocolate coatings, caulking compound, crayons, cosmetics.
Source: Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
Sunflowers are the up-and-comers of the crop world! Sunflower production increased by a remarkable 52% in 2020.5 Beyond a vibrant addition to a floral bouquet or a fun background for family photos, sunflowers have a lot of practical uses. Sunflowers can be used in dyes and inks, paper, livestock feed, and even to remove radiation from soil. This crop is growing in popularity, and we have farmers to thank for producing these functional flowers!
From the Roots/Leaves: Livestock feed, removing radiation from soil, medicinal uses.
From the Flower Petals: Dyes and inks, medicinal uses, teas, and edible garnishes.
From the Stalks/Stems: Paper and livestock feed.
From the Seeds: Used for healthy alternative cooking oil, seed – healthy snack, birdfeed, ground into flours, livestock feed, and sunflower butter (substitute for peanut butter).
Source: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center
The products that farmers and ranchers contribute to go well beyond the food on your plate. Whether it’s the upholstery on your couch or the surgical sutures for a procedure, agricultural professionals work hard to find use for every inch of their crop and livestock to keep our world turning. As the #1 ag insurer1, Farm Bureau is proud to work with farmers and ranchers every day and it’s our pleasure to recognize them for all that they do!
1 No. 1 ag insurer across our 8-state territory; 2020 SNL P&C Group - Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Western Agricultural Insurance Company direct written premium.