Arable Land and Food Production Study
Total Area Acres
Poor Soil Unsuitable 350,000,000
Insufficient Rain 600,000,000
Forest Land 737,000,000
Houses Note 1 125,000,000
Airports Note 2 5,000,000
Vehicle Parking Note 3 2,000,000
Buildings Note 4 negligible
Available Arable Land 579,600,000
1. According to the American Housing Authority there are
125 million houses in the United States. Estimated average size
is 1250 sq. ft. on 1/2 acre lot
2. There are 15,100 unpaved airports and 5,200 paved airports
in the United States. Estimates are 680 acres for paved, such
as LaGuardia and 100 acres for the unpaved.
3. Each registered auto occupies162 sq. ft. and the average truck
240 sq. ft. There are260 million registered autos and 133 million
4. The number of office buildings warehouses, etc. that are occupied
only part time or not at all is impossible to estimate accurately and
the figure chosen is a conservative 40 Sq. ft. per person and the total
then less than 1 million and insignificant for this study.
Arable Land and Future Prognosis
The foregoing chart lays out the current situation regarding the U. S. ability to feed its population from indigenous sources. We may disagree about the current population but both the inability of the government to actually count it the fact is that the consumption of current food stocks inclusive of waste indicates a population closer to 450 million as opposed to the census figures of about 325 million.
Irrespective of the differences the fact is our population continues to grow at an increasing rate while land converted to food production has been in decline for nearly two decades. We have also, despite irrigation reached a limit on how much can be produced on each acre and that includes chemical enhancement, loath to those who eschew “organic foods”.
A conservative estimate of the acreage need to produce a balanced diet is approximately one acre for each additional person added to the population. That doesn’t include changes in rainfall such as the drought that hit the Midwest in the 1930s or the persistent frosts that hit Florida and Texas early in the growing season.
It is easy to say we can convert forests to arable land but if it were profitable, farmers would do it, but no, they are selling their land to developers for housing, shopping centers or giving it away to the government such as the forests recently sold by Roxanne Quimby when the state would not allow development on it.
The arable land figure is conservative because it is difficult to obtain the facts as regards usage of the land for purposes other than agriculture. Nonetheless, the figure of approximately 580 million acres would equate to the ability to feed 580 million people which by a growth rate of 0.5% would be achieved in 35 years if the population were actually 450 million now or 120 years if it is 325 million. We have never achieved a growth rate of 0.5 %, the current rate being 0.7%. That is only the availability of sufficient food to feed an individual. Their ability to purchase if they do not work and must rely on government largess is yet another issue.
Before this point is reached those only on EBT cards for food must purchaset clothing and shelter. That number is now 45 million and growing. Males and females without dependents are excluded, which is why we have so many unwed mothers who support not only their children, but the non-resident or unmarried males who father their children. Housing allowances, food banks and organizations such as Good Will and the Salvation Army provide low cost clothing and some organizations provide shelter. The growing numbers will, if not already, out-pace this private charity.
There are currently approximately 2 million people who will reach 65 next year. There are just over 4 million reaching 20 and ready to enter the workforce. Even if all the 2 million were employed, retired and needed to be replaced that would leave 2 million jobs that would have to be created. That is 166,000 jobs every month and will have to be repeated each year. No economy, can cope with such numbers, even if every machine currently in use is scrapped in exchange for manual labor. India tried it in the 1960s but its limits are quickly reached as the numbers of individuals continues to increase as the population exceeds replacement. I know, because I was working there on a project in the early 1960s where even the gravel used for the roads and in making concrete was crushed by hand. Nearby, a dam was being built with stones and mortar and employed over 140,000 workers. There were pictures of it in Engineering News Record at the time. Obviously, the work was temporary. The Pharaohs employed the same technique in building the pyramids and we are now employing it with shovel ready infrastructure.
Current events in the Middle East and much of Africa are harbingers of what is beginning to occur already in the U. S.. They are malnutrition, migration to where there is work or civil war between the haves and the have-nots. An economic system where the means of exchange accumulates is ultimately doomed to fail, particularly where government, be it dictatorship or democracy, gets to determine who gets how much of it.