Any way you slice it, Americans enjoy the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. The cherry on top of the ice cream sundae is that American farmers produce that food for our fellow countrymen and women at the lowest cost on the planet with little investment on their part.

With the recent farm bill and all the ink devoted to "agricultural subsidies" by non-ag media outlets still top of mind, one would think ag spending is a significant federal budget expense. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of the top 15 budget items shown in the table, agriculture ranks 15, accounting for 85 cents out of every $100 in federal tax dollars . . . a pittance when one weighs the fact that everyone must eat. The big three - Defense, Social Security and Health care - account for 69.3 percent of federal budget outlays. In ninth is spending for food assistance, accounting for $2.39 for every $100, reported the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Even though the federal government spends little on agricultural research and farm assistance, American agriculture continues to thrive. It's a message we should share more often with our neighbors. It's also a firm reminder that we could one day pay the price for dwindling ag research budgets.

where each $100 in taxes goes

This editorial appears on page 572 of the September 10, 2014 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.