Monday, May 9, 2011

Charlie Arnot on "Consumers' Perceptions and Role in Understanding Current and Future Ag Production Practices"

This 27-minute talk, "'Consumers' Perceptions and Role in Understanding Current and Future Production Practices," by Charlie Arnot, CEO, Center for Food Integrity (Kansas City, Missouri), is from the 2011 Annual Conference of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, April 11 - 14, San Antonio, Texas. Arnot talks about today's efficiencies in the agricultural system, the public's perceptions of U.S. agriculture, and the future potential for meeting global population increases with agricultural output.

Some of Arnot's points are controversial, depending upon what your own food priorities are, though I will challenge anyone on whether they might have some misconceptions and hypocritical viewpoints about food. The fact is, most people like and take for granted being removed from yesterday's farm-work lifestyle, while being able to go into a supermarket and having unprecedented choices of abundant and reasonably priced food. Arnot presents an important side of the argument which you will not be seeing in Mark Bittman's or Michael Pollan's columns.

Here are some statements from Arnot's talk:
  • In 1950 the U.S. population was 154 million, there were 5.6 million farms, and one farmer produced enough to feed 30 people.
  • In 2010 the U.S. population was 308 million, there were 2 million farms, and one farmer produced enough to feed 155 people.
  • Compared to 1950, we produce 176% more pork per sow with 44% fewer sows.
  • Compared to 1950, we produce 333% more corn on 11% more acres.
  • Compared to 1950, we have 12 times the production of lettuce in Monterey County, California on 2.5 times the land.
  • Compared to 1950, we have 8 times the production of tomatoes in Yolo County, California on 3 times the land.
  • Compared to 1950, we produce 53% more eggs with 3% fewer hens.
  • Compared to 1950, we produce 11 times more soybeans on 5 times the acres.
  • Compared to 1950, we produce 69% more wheat on 6% fewer acres.
  • Compared to 1950, we produce 63% more milk with 58% fewer cows.


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