Local farmland loss as food demand grows
The need for solid land stewardship was brought into sharp relief this week when the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization released a report finding that a quarter of the Earth's land is highly degraded. Ag production has grown 2.5 to 3 times over the last 50 years to keep up with demand, yet, often times, the practices used to accomplish those gains further degrade and erode the available land, the report's authors note. Still, demand continues to grow. "Toward 2050, rising population and incomes are expected to call for 70 percent more food production globally, and up to 100 percent more in developing countries, relative to 2009 levels," the report said. The 2007 Census of Agriculture estimated that Indiana had 14,773,184 acres of farmland, down nearly 752,000 acres from 1997. As our farmland continues to be lost to other uses, Hoosiers must acknowledge the connections between our land-use choices and our role as leading global food source. We need to make sure we are preserving our soil, not paving it under or washing it away with careless production practices.