If all the farmers and ranchers stopped working tomorrow, we'd be living on stale gummy bears. In 2008, chicken consumption per person was 58.8 pounds (26.67 kg) [source: U.S. Poultry and Egg Association]. Wheat flour use in 2008 was at 136.6 pounds (61.96 kg) -- per person [source: USDA Economic Research Service]. That's a whole lot of chicken and dumplings.
It's a hard job. A drought, bad storm or particularly nasty swarm of insects or disease can devastate the crops and livestock they've been carefully raising all year -- and with it goes all the money. The accidental death rate for farmers and ranchers was 10 times the national average for all industries in 2008, according to the National Safety Council [source: Fetsch].
They're very labor-intensive jobs, which is why there's so much machinery involved in farming, for example. With big, heavy, powerful machinery comes the risk of getting caught up in it. Tractors, hay balers and mowers make farming easier, but the human body is no match for them in a one-on-one encounter. Tractor rollovers are the cause of 1 in 3 deaths of farm workers [source: Compensation and Working Conditions].
Ranchers, on the other hand, can find themselves in enclosed spaces with cattle that weight about 1,000 pounds (453.6 kg). If a steer pins you against something, butts you or stomps you, you're not exactly evenly matched. Cows aren't as sweet as their image. In 16 of 21 cases of death by cow that the CDC studied, the agency concluded that they'd done it on purpose [source: CDC].