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European Union – Our Farm is Not Big Enough

Touch the Soil News #453

Many nations around the world (and some continents) do not have enough farmland to feed themselves. So whether they import food or try to own farmland overseas, the realization is the same – the homeland farm is not big enough.

Friends of the Earth (Europe) recently released a watershed report: The True Cost of Consumption – The EU’s Land Footprint. They wanted to know how much farmland the European Union is short of when it comes to providing food for all of its citizens.

Cover of the report. The True Cost of Consumption – The EU’s Land Footprint is the first of its kind in the world. It raises the question: Should nations contain their populations and appetites so as to not – through default – encroach on the food security and land of other nations? (photo – cover of report courtesy of Friends of the Earth Europe)

First, there is some value in comparing the European Union (a union of 28 nations) and the United States. From a land area perspective, the U.S. has 2.25 times more land. From a population perspective, the European Union has 1.6 times more people. Said in another way, the European Union land mass is equal to 2.1 acres per person. The U.S. land mass is equal to 7.5 acres per person. Remember this land mass includes urban areas, mountains and land that cannot be farmed or pastured.

The European Union only has 60 percent of the farmland needed to feed itself. Thus 40 percent of the farmland necessary to feed the E.U. must come from outside its borders. The total number of farmland acres necessary to feed the E.U. comes to 655 million acres. Of this amount, 265 million acres come from outside the E.U. and from which the food is imported into the E.U.

The amount of farmland that the E.U. is short of comes to 265 million acres. That is equal to a farm 100 miles wide and over 4,000 miles long.

Things are not static in this world. Of particular impact to E.U. food security is the steady progress being made in China and India in terms of eating higher and higher on the food chain (more meat and dairy products). Shockingly, the Farmland footprint report on the E.U. reveals that 73 percent of the farmland needed to feed the E.U. is dedicated to dairy products, meat products and other animal products.

Of issue is that financially powerful nations can quickly get into a bidding match over food and agricultural assets, leaving indigenous peoples and weaker governments at risk of being exploited. You can download the report here:


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