Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Modern Farming: The Way Forward

Need more evidence that modern farming techniques—criticized by some for polluting waterways, scarring the land and mistreating animals—are the way forward for the environment and an exploding world population? A new report from the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service offers it up in spades.

Today’s crop and livestock farms, the report found, are much larger and rely more on marketing and production contracts than those 25 years ago. They use 6 percent less land and 30 percent to 40 percent less labor than their predecessors—and are nearly 50 percent more productive. All those factors have combined to keep food prices in check and to limit impacts on the environment, the report said.

And productivity must continue to improve if U.S. agriculture is to meet energy and population demands, the report added. “Future innovations will be necessary to maintain, or boost, productivity gains in order to meet the growing global demands that will be placed upon U.S. agriculture,” it concluded.

The 77-page report is ERS Bulletin No. 88, titled The Changing Organization of U.S. Farming.

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