As noted above, even if Michigan’s agricultural industry were in decline, production in other parts of the nation would quickly take up the slack. The United States is a net exporter of food products, and numerous states could expand existing farm production to ensure Michigan citizens have enough food to feed themselves and the rest of the world.

World food production has increased steadily since 1980: Output for meats, rice, and fish has increased by more than one third (see Table 1, next page). From 1950 to 1992, worldwide grain production per person increased 154.5%.[45] These increases are largely a result of the ongoing technological revolution in agriculture.

Table 1 – World Food Production, 1980-1994 (in Millions of Metric Tons)

Production in

%

Product

1980

1994

Increase

Barley

156.7

160.8

2.6%

Corn

397.5

470.4

18.3%

Meats

135.9

194.7

43.3%

Rice

398.9

534.7

34.0%

Wheat

440.1

564.1

28.2%

Fish catches

72.0

101.4

40.8%


Source: U. S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, World Agriculture — Trends and Indicators.

In the United States, the farm output index rose from 73 in 1970 to 92 in 1980 to 108 in 1993.[46] This is a 17.4% increase over 1980 output levels and a 47.9% increase over 1970 output levels. Moreover, the U. S. continues to be a net exporter of agricultural products[47] and total farm income increased by 63.0% from 1980 to 1994, according to the U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.[48]

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service concluded in a recent report that "losing farmland to urban uses does not threaten total cropland or the level of agricultural production which should be sufficient to meet food and fiber demand into the next century."[49]

In fact, higher yields and stocks have allowed a new industry to emerge. Corn and other crops are now used for industrial and other non-feed uses such as fuel alcohol and energy from biomass. Whether these uses create significant new demand for crops will depend on market factors such as the scarcity of other energy sources. "The use of cropland to produce biomass as a primary product will depend on returns to biomass crops exceeding the return to crops currently produced" notes the U. S. Department of Agriculture.[50]