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Little Known Facts about Agriculture and Population

  • The U.S. population doubled during the past 60 years and is projected to double again in the next 60 years to more than 520 million (if massive earth changes do not manifest as are predicted). More than 99% of world food comes from the land, less than 1% from oceans and aquatic systems. If the population doubles again, there will be insufficient land to maintain food exports and feed the U.S. population.

  • More than 2 million acres of U.S. agricultural land are abandoned each year because of soil erosion. In 1981, Iowa reported that the State has lost one-half of its topsoil. During the past 40 years about 30% of the world’s cropland had to be abandoned because of soil erosion. More than 1 million acres of agricultural land are covered with "black-top" because of urbanization and highways. To replace 1 inch of lost topsoil under agricultural conditions requires about 500 years.

  • Water is in short supply for agriculture in about 80 nations. In the U.S., agriculture consumes 85% of the water pumped for use for all purposes. A corn crop during the growing season transpires about 500,000 gallons of water. More than 125 gallons (1000 lbs) of water are required to produce 1 lb of corn. If corn were to be produced using desalinized water, the water alone would cost $6,000 per acre.

  • The livestock population in the U.S. outweighs the U.S. human population by more than 4 times. The U.S. livestock produce nearly 1 billion tons of manure for disposal each year. About 20 billion pounds of fertilizer are applied to U.S. agriculture.

  • The U.S. currently imports about 60% of our oil and within 20 years we will be importing 100% at a cost of $150 billion annually. About 400 gallons of oil equivalents are required to feed each person per year, with approximately 1/3 for agricultural production.

  • Despite the use of 1 billion pounds of pesticides applied in the U.S., about 37% of all potential crop production is destroyed by pests (insects, weeds, and diseases). Less than 0.1% of the pesticides applied actually reach the target pests. Although insecticide use in the U.S. increased more than 10 fold since 1945 to date, crop losses to insects have nearly doubled during this period (reason: changes of agricultural technologies). Worldwide there are about 3 million human pesticide poisonings each year, with about 220,000 deaths. 25% of the pesticides used all over the world are used for the cotton industry.

  • The destruction of beneficial natural enemies in the U.S. costs agriculture more than $500 million each year. If groundwater and well water were adequately monitored for pesticide contamination, it would cost the nation about $1.3 million.

  • The total environmental costs of using pesticides in the U.S. is more than $8 billion each year. Pesticide use in the U.S. could be reduced by 50% without any reduction in crop yields, and the cost to the consumer would be only a 0.6% increase in food costs.

  • Sustainable agricultural practices protect soil, water and biodiversity and make crop and livestock production more profitable to farmers and consumers.


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