(Infographic) Are We Headed for a Food Shortage?

old-farmer-in-oat-fieldThe other day I was watching videos on YouTube, and I heard Joel Salatin say that the average age of American farmers is approaching 60 years old. He mentioned that when a Wall Street analyst values a company, one of the things they take into consideration is the average age of the company’s employees. And if the average age of a company’s employees is over 35, then the company is devalued because it is considered to be “in decline.”

Now, I don’t want to take anything away from older farmers and gardeners. I learned long ago that when a “mature” grower is talking, you better listen up! Nobody has more experience and knowledge than someone who has been practicing for decades – through droughts, hard winters, and a million trends that have come and gone. So, when a 60 year old farmer talks… I listen like they were E.F. Hutton.

But the point here is that aging farmers aren’t passing on their wisdom. Their land is often their retirement fund. So, rather than passing on their knowledge and land to the next generation, they cash out – selling the land to be subdivided and developed. Too often, this is their only option.

I was searching around for more information when I came across this infographic. Turns out, we’re losing family farms and farmers quicker than you might think. And when you add in population growth – it paints a scary picture. Check it out…


Also check out Tasha Greer’s article Are You Prepared for Peak Chicken? – Tasha talks about the problem of food security, but more importantly, she proposes 3 practical changes we can make to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Thanks to Free Legacy Food for the infographic. You can see the original post here: Food Shortage.

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  • duggy says:

    doesn’t anybody see the godzilla sneaking up on them ? when the dollar evaporates [ yes it will ] the supply chains go the way of fukusima daichi ..

    when lew can’t repay maturing t bonds nor pay the vig on same..the gvt bond market will go under .. u s g bonds crash, what do you think will happen to the stock market ???? [ nyse ; amex ; otc ; commodities ; futzi ; tutzi ; etc ]
    when the stockmarket crashes … how ’bout that dollar ???? it is what it is today because the general world citizenry think it is worth … for example : a small can of soda ; a generic cup of coffee; half a gallon of gas ; etc ..you get the picture …. what happens when the gvt bond market and the stok mkt are trash ? confidence in the dollar erodes to evaporation …what then ???
    your paycheck / dividend check / ss check / ssi check / pension /401(k) / trust acct all are worth spit …will employees report to work ? not for long … what then ? no food ; water; fuel ; com ; gvt ; army ; police ; fire ; sanit ; entertain ; transp ….stone age [ same thing if a carrington sun spot hits us]

    think i am delusional …crazy ..why should you care ? am i wrong ? i wish i were ..i posed a very logical sequence above …show me wrong ..not just empty assertions ..fact ..logic ..conclusion based on fact / logic

    why do i think the bond [ gvt bond ] mkt will tank ? it almost did in ’08..back then geithner could still sell bonds [ t bonds ] that’s what they mean when they say “kick the can down the road ” borrow more money …that faucet is drying up as we speak … a. the debt was 10 or 12 trillion back then ..now it is 18
    b. china used to buy our bonds …i.e. pay the gvt money for treasury bonds
    c. china no longer is willing to buy our t bonds ..they are dumping them for cash with which they are buying gold ..no dummies ..s…….hameful human rights record , but , no dummies ….

    the debt is 18 plus 12 zeroes … too big to pay [imho] ..lew can’t pay it and soon he won’t be able to redeem the t bonds coming due for redemption [ repayment ] plus interest … my guess is about election time the house of cards will tip..say in the area of 20,000,000,000,000 usd …

    18 trillion single dollar bills laid end to end would form a tape how long ?
    answer from earth to planet uranus ..1.7 BILLION miles from earth gvt has messed up big time since 1913 when the ngo nga non federal fedbank was bribed into existence to issue the money that gvt must sell bonds to acquire..
    that is how the illustrious stewards of your gvt have funded gvt for 102 years….. with you as the victim ..they are robbing your affluence and future wealth of you and generations …

    a T bond is like any bond …a mortgage …an interest only mortgage ..a balloon mortgage ..in which you the issuer pay interest until the repayment date [ maturity date ] when the whole amount is due for a balloon [ lump sum] payment to the bondholder ..be he fedbank or boe or boa or boj or pimco or fund or person

    that’s the problem, not some hard to predict “business cycle” business goes up and down based on loose or tight credit ..not some unknowable set of circumstances ..loose credit = boom …tight credit = pull back / recession / depression [ 1929 ? we did that – bernanke ]

    the non federal fedbank is the culprit and treasury is its lap dog [ female lap dog ] the fedbank is no more federal than fedex or federal ammo ………..

    kill the fedbank or at least nationalize the sob [ jackson did it in 1836] wilson let them back in 1913

  • Perry says:

    Something in the math isn’t right: 1 acre per minute is 525,600 acres per year, and 13,140,000 acres from 1982 to 2007. Just sayin. Still bad news overall…

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Good point Perry – glad to see someone around here has some math skills!

  • GreenHearted says:

    I find it funny (sad funny) that even in an infographic dedicated to food security in the USA, the words “climate” and “change” still can’t be uttered. But I’ll take “diminishing constancy” instead. At least it speaks to the fact that the vast majority of human populations have evolved over the last 10,000 years into a species that’s dependent on agriculture — and that for the last 10,000 years agriculture has been dependent on a stable climate (seasonal weather trends that farmers could count on) … a climate that is rapidly being destabilized due to, yup, climate change.

    I find the one thing that keeps my head above water when thinking about the future of food is the spread of permaculture, especially among younger generations of would-be food growers. We all have to become more and more creative in order to come up with workable strategies to get them onto the land.

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi GH – Yeah, “diminishing constancy” sounds a lot like something a politician would say…

  • Ted says:

    I have worked on wall street for over 30 years and never seen an analyst’ report comment on the age of a company’s employees(other than the ceo).

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Ted – Well, it kind of makes my day to learn that we have readers on Wall Street… who knew? Thanks for the insight about age & valuation. I double checked to make sure I hadn’t misquoted – here’s the video I referenced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaQ3hXkXVjY (about 3:10).

      Because age discrimination is illegal, I wonder if this info might be encoded as “risk tolerance” or “potential for innovation” or something like that?

  • Bonnie says:

    More bad news: Most food in the US, especially produce, is grown in California, which is rapidly becoming a desert (due to global warming, geoengineering, or both), aggravated by Nestle’s stealing water to bottle and sell, and aquifers poisoned by fracking .

    1. Jeff says:

      No Fracking Allowed in California – need to blame something else. Perhaps population growth over the last 40 years without expanding water storage capabilities? Sounds like a government responsibility. Serious problem for Cali and country in general if trend continues. I believe Nestle’s has also put forth a plan to get water from outside California (may be wrong), but if you bottle and sell in California, what difference would it make? Beer makers are terrible too for the same reason.

    2. Roger Cole says:

      While weather patterns are shifting, this is nothing new. Man can cause damage to his environment. There is no question about that. The Kansas “dust bowl” of the 1930’s proves that. However, I can’t believe that people are not aware of weather cycles that have always had a planetary effect long before the world population was industrialized. Computer models that predict catastrophes years into the future are not any better than our daily weather reports that have to be revised every other day. Human endeavors to change these cycles end up being the real danger.

  • David says:

    Although I’m middle aged; having a farm is a life long dream. My younger brother has already taken his first steps, in the order of buying an old farm and beginning the costly endeavor to bring it back to life. My concern however is twofold:

    1. It is so hard to find good land, funding, support, and decent books on farming. So many times I have found misinformation, partial information, or a lack of information on all of these subjects. Real-estate websites are also, mostly useless. And yes, trying to find farmers of any age willing to share information or their time is rather difficult- internships just don’t work for those of us still working full time jobs just to put food on the table.

    2. Often those older farmers you speak of don’t have family or the type of family that’s interested in farming the land. So that fairly ‘good’ land is broken down between family members or given/taken to/by the rest homes as payments for health care. Then that land is sold for quick cash to developers. Then $500,000 – $1,000,000,+ homes get built, so the new occupants can complain about the other farms down the road stinking up their air.

    Unless a great deal of things change, the costs and barriers in place are simply too overwhelming for anyone not born into it or expecting land from an inheritance.

  • Greg says:

    1 acre per minute lost does NOT equal millions of acres lost per year – the very first ‘fact’ in the graphic. It is simple math….

    60 minutes per hour times 24 hours per day times 365 days per year equals 525,600 minutes per year. Not even close to ‘millions’. I doubt that any of the other ‘factoids’ are true either.

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Here is a communication from American Farmland Trust that states 23 million acres of farm and ranch land lost over the 25 years between 1982 and 2007 – link here. In those 25 years, there were 13,140,000 seconds. So that’s actually 1.75 acres per minute. And that works out to 0.92 million acres per year.

      Perhaps they rounded the numbers for a clear picture. Whoever made this was not a math whiz, but most of the facts are attributed to US government stats – if you trust those.

  • Christa says:

    In some ways, we already HAVE a food shortage. Look at the grocery stores, and apply Michael Pollan’s definitions. Lots of ‘food like’ substances, but not really all that much FOOD. But that’s okay, not too many people know what to DO with REAL FOOD anymore either.

    There is still plenty available, if you know where to look—farmer’s markets, local producers, your own backyard.

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