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.