USDA Study Shows Cropland Decreasing, Productivity IncreasingFri, 24 Feb 2012 14:48:07 CST
Is the conversion of farm land to land for housing reducing land available for food and fiber production? A recently released USDA study addresses that issue.
The amount of cropland is decreasing in the United States due to a variety of factors. That’s one of the conclusions from the major land uses study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The study examined data o land use trends from 1945 to 2007.
Cynthia Nickerson with the USDA says, “We see productivity increases that are allowing farmers to grow more on less land over time and the reasons also vary by region. In some regions of the country where you have significant pressures to provide land for housing for example, you’ll see declines in crop land. In other regions of the country it could be for other competing demands for land.”
The study also showed that the nation’s cropland is becoming more concentrated in an area comprised of Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Illinois.
“In 2007 we estimated about twenty five percent of total cropland is located in these five states, up from twenty one percent in 1964,” Nickerson said. “On the other hand in the northeast and the southeast we’ve seen a long-term decline in cropland uses, and that’s due primarily to two reasons, urban pressures and demands for land for housing and secondly because relative to other regions these regions don’t have as favorable conditions for growing crops or marketing them.”
And despite the growth of many cities and more housing developments, the vast majority of the U.S. is still rural.
“ The land in urban areas plus this rural residential land outside of urban areas still represents a very small portion of the total U.S. land base, about seven percent,” Nickerson said.
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