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
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%. 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)
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. 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
and total farm income increased by 63.0% from 1980 to 1994, according to the U. S. Bureau
of Economic Analysis.
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."
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.