Flashback – U.S. now entering metric age

From The Harvester, February 1975

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is entering the metric age, and farmers may as well start learning about hectares, quintals, kilograms and kiloliters. They will, eventually, take the place of acres, bushels, pounds and gallons.

In issuing crop reports, the USDA has begun using metric units in addition to the usual and familiar bushels, pounds, bales and acres. The wheat crop forecasts, for instance, were in metric tons in addition to bushels. Acreage for harvest was listed in hectares as well as acres.

Despite congressional rejection of a bill to adopt the metric system this year, the weight of evidence is that the U.S. is surely moving toward its adoption. Some food products already are labeled in grams as well as ounces. Some types of bicycles use metric measurements – the popular Schwinn for one. Ford Motor Company is building engines according to metric measurements. Imported cars are built on the metric system.

The move to metrication is evident on road signs in Ohio, with distances shown both in miles and kilometers. Metric measures are standard in the sciences and in compounding prescriptions. Public schools in California and Maryland are converting to metric measurements in textbooks. Within a couple of years, all California science and math books will be solely metric.

Some conversations are going to be easier than others, it appears. A few will be more difficult. But after the entire metric system is adopted, there will be few problems since it is a decimal system based on units of 10, like our monetary system where 10 cents equal a dime and 10 dimes equal a dollar.

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