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Where has All the Farmland Gone? Long Time Passing.

Touch the Soil News #1800 (Feature Photo  – Wheat – CCO 1.0 Public Domain)

While there is still a lot of farmland in the U.S., there has been a noticeable disappearance over the years – approximately 25 percent to be exact. Now, a 25 percent loss seems to be of concern, but a much greater loss is that roughly 50 percent of the nation’s valuable topsoil has been blown or eroded off the farmland that’s left. So, this is not an attempt to convince anyone the sky is falling, but a message to start thinking about land – even if it’s just the land in your yard!

So here are the digits. In 1950, America had 1,202,019,000 acres of farmland. In 2021, America had 895,300,000 acres of farmland. That equates to a loss of 306,719,000 acres – roughly 4.3 million acres a year. The good news is that the rate of farmland loss has decreased over the last decade to less than 2 million acres a year. The farmland lost since 1950 would be equivalent to a farm 100 miles wide and almost 5,000 miles long.

When looking at the digits about farmland, the U.S. in 1950 is different than the U.S. in 2021. The population has more than doubled and farmland has decreased by 25 percent. This means that in 1950, there was 7.6 acres of farmland per person and at the end of 2021 there was 2.7 acres of farmland per person.

The good news for America, is that it is only losing topsoil 10 times faster than normal replenishment, while China and India are losing topsoil 30 to 40 times the rate of replenishment.

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