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Shrinking Farm Land Bringing The U.S. Closer To Civil Unrest

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posted on Jun, 9 2008 @ 03:51 AM
The United States has been a major producer and exporter of food for quite some time. Could that change? The demographics are always in a constant state of change but trends can be seen. When a country must import the food necessary for its people, it will only be a matter of time before civil unrest will occur.

Just as oil production and refining has gone over seas, so not it seems food may be also. In recent years the amount of land that has been used for farming has been decreasing. Being able to produce enough food to feed at least your own populations is important. With an increasing population, but land being used for farming decreasing, the United States may be moving closer to a civil disaster.

From 1992 - 1997 6,172,800 acres of land have been converted from agricultural to developed uses.

From 1997 - 2002 farm land in acres has gone from 954,752,502 to 938,279,056.

Also here is another way to look at things.
In 1997 the United States produced 333.7 million metric tons of grain.
In the same year 244.5 million metric tons was used domestically.

In 2006 the United States produced 341.2 million metric tons of grain.
In the same year 290.2 metric tons was used domestically.

Yes, the amount of grain produced has been increasing, although be it at a much slower rate then the grain being used domestically, while the land used for farming has been decreasing. This can be attributed to more advanced farming techniques. This can also create a weakness. Fertilizers come in part from petroleum, which is greatly imported. Using less land to produce more food can also create a greater chance for disaster should something like disease attack the food crops. Such as Black Stem Rust.

In Uganda in 1999, a new and more virulent strain of wheat fungus was detected: Puccinia graminis, or Ug99. It can take a healthy field and transform it into a mass of black, tangled, shriveled grain in just a few weeks; crop losses range between 50-70%.

Unfortunately, Ug99 is on the move; as the Wall Street Journal article points out, it's moving quickly out of Africa and towards major wheat-producing countries like India and Pakistan.

The spores of the fungus are carried by the wind, spreading the disease to susceptible strains of wheat. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that those susceptible varieties of wheat make up 80% of the wheat planted in Africa and Asia. This is not the first rust threat to come out of Africa, and scientists have been able to predict the spread of the disease from data of earlier infestations. So far, their predictions have been right on the money. It has been found in East Africa and Yemen, and recently it was positively identified in Iran. The real kicker is that the strain of Ug99 found in Yemen had already mutated into a more virulent form than that which caused reduced wheat yields in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.sorce

To compensate for this trend the United States corporate monolith has been exporting its food production. One place it has gone is Mexico. A 2007 survey shows that American companies now farm more then 45,000 acres of land in Mexico. They employ workers that often have agricultural experience in the United States. It is advantages to both sides since the workers cannot be deported.

In addition the United States does import foods in quantity. This chart shows that in 1998 the United States imported food valued at 37,105 million dollars. In 2004 the United States imported 54,264 million dollars of food.

So what we have is shrinking farm land in acres, increased production per acre, and increasing domestic needs. One more factor plays into all of this, the population.

In 2000 the total population of the United States was 281,421,906. In 2006 the total population was 299,398,485.

All of this put together shows that the population is increasing, farm land is decreasing, domestic use of food is out pacing increased production per acre, and imports of foods are increasing. There was once a time when foreign governments just stopped exporting oil. What if this were to happen with food? As the pantries go bare civil unrest would be an understatement. Should a nation wide civil unrest occur, do to food shortage, that just might be enough of a reason for martial law to be imposed.

I hope you will think of this when you enjoy today's bread.


posted on Jun, 9 2008 @ 05:33 AM
No Need to Worry

When a country must import the food necessary for its people, it will only be a matter of time before civil unrest will occur.

This is the credo of 'self-sufficiency', a mercantilist hangover from the age of empires, which in modern times has been superseded by the broader concept of food self-reliance.

Food security is traditionally discussed in terms of either food self-sufficiency or food self-reliance. The former requires production of food in the quantities consumed domestically, while the latter requires domestic availability. Self-sufficiency rules out imports as a major source of supply while self-reliance has no such restriction. Some commentators do not regard self-sufficiency as an economically sound alternative, given the much greater worldwide capacity to produce food than to consume it, the few restrictions on the exports of food items in countries with excess capacity, and the availability of international transport. Instead, what countries need, it is argued, is sufficient capacity to generate the foreign exchange necessary to import whatever quantities they consume over and above what it is efficient to produce, based on comparative advantage.

Trade Liberalization and Food Security, FAO _/ex]

Our results show that while many low-income countries are net food importers, the importance and potential impact of the net food importing status has been highly exaggerated. Many low-income countries that have larger food deficits are either oil exporters or countries in conflict. Food deficits of most low-income countries are not that significant as a percentage of their imports.

Who Are the Net Food-Importing Countries?, World Bank _/ex]

Net food importing countries aren't always Third World indigents. Among their number you will find Norway, Singapore and, I believe, Switzerland, all of which have far more stable societies than the United States'.

You may find this paper on food security policy in Norway worth perusing. It's a .pdf download, by the way.

Scarcity of agricultural land does cause social unrest, but not in a way that can affect the USA. It happens in countries with expanding populations and in which most people are peasant farmers, where arable land is at a premium and the amount available to each peasant to cultivate is reduced every generation by subdivision through inheritance as the population grows. That was the cause of the Rwanda massacre of 1994. It was also behind the more recent unrest in Kenya.

I think America has a way to go yet before it reaches that condition. No need to push the panic button just yet.

posted on Jun, 9 2008 @ 06:28 AM
Hey! Well here is something to add to your equation! Did you know that we are actually producing more than we need just we are using certain foods to EXPORT to other countries? Quite an amazing feat is it not for some to grasp? What is it with "AMERICA GOING TO CIVIL UNREST!" When we if you come to our country you will see we are no where near civil unrest, except when it comes to Bush.

posted on Jun, 9 2008 @ 07:08 AM
There is still plenty of farmland. It is the other resource that is lacking: how many kids these days sit in class and dream of becoming farmers?

posted on Jun, 9 2008 @ 07:54 PM

Originally posted by Astyanax

Scarcity of agricultural land does cause social unrest, but not in a way that can affect the USA.

Yes it may have a way to go, but the point of the evidence presented is that, it is going that direction.
The civil un rest will happen when the imports have to happen, and the other countries have the ability to cut it all off.

posted on Jun, 9 2008 @ 07:56 PM
I did do a lot of research on all this so I just want to say thanks to everyone who has posted a response.

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