Farming and products made in Jackson

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Since so much of Cape Girardeau County is considered rural, most of us surely are aware of the importance of our agricultural economy.

Farmers and ranchers make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population. In Cape Girardeau County we have approximately 1,500 farms, up 20 percent from 2002.

More than 300,000 acres in Cape Girardeau County are used for the production of agricultural commodities. The top three cash receipts come from soybeans (a big export crop), corn and livestock (mostly cattle and calves).

On average, one U.S. farmer or rancher produces enough food and fiber for 154 people in the U.S. and abroad.

The general population has become separated from any firsthand experience with agriculture. We don't associate the food in the grocery store, on the table or in the restaurant with the farmers and ranchers who provide us with an abundant and affordable food supply.

U.S. consumers spend just 10 percent of their disposable income on food, as compared to Pakistan (45 percent), Indonesia (43 percent) and China (33 percent).

Nationwide, 51 percent of our food is eaten at home and 49 percent away from home. It looks like we are eating almost half our meals out.

The week of Feb. 5 to 11 is designated as Thank a Farmer Week. The farmers and ranchers in our area have contributed greatly to our heritage and prosperity over the years. Farming and ranching play a vital role in the economy of our county, and we should recognize their efforts on behalf of consumers around the world.

Our local business and industry is also doing quite well. Since July, we have had 18 new businesses get business licenses, among them several beauty/barber shops, American Wireless, Rent-a-Center (inside Ashley Furniture), Guardian Angels Home Care and Kirk Miller, a new Farmers Insurance agent.

Nordenia is moving into its new building in the North Industrial Park. The business has begun hiring and recently had a job fair in the new facility. It is a beautiful building, and we are excited about having Nordenia in Jackson.

Additionally, American Railcar Industries has almost doubled its number of employees in the last year. It currently has a workforce of 200 people.

As the name implies, ARI manufactures rail cars. However, it also work as a subcontractor and provides a lot of steel used in bridges all over this area. ARI also manufactures many agriculture products.

ARI services all of North America and exports products to Australia, Mexico, Canada and Peru.

In these days when everything we buy seems to be labeled "Made in China," it's good to know that products made in Jackson are used all over the world.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

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